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Disney Wonder review – accessibility & entertainment

Disney’s magic docked long before the Disney Wonder ship graced our shores in Australia. As soon as Disney Cruise Line was rumoured to be heading down under, the excitement in Disney Facebook groups was palpable. It reminded me of the magic that sweeps through the Disney Parks at the first sight of Mickey & Minnie, or the anticipation that mounts before a Disney parade begins. For the first time Australians and New Zealanders would be able to experience Disney magic without the long flight to the USA. Knowing that so many people with complex medical conditions and with a disability are unable to travel by plane to the USA made this a particularly special moment for Aussies and Kiwis. The magic of Disney would be accessible to more people thanks to the arrival of the Disney Wonder.

Disney Wonder review - accessibility on board - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Disney Wonder wheelchair access

I was privileged to experience an evening on Disney Wonder but due to the number of people attending the event the staterooms were not included in our tour. I was disappointed as I know that so many of you like to know specifics about accommodation and I’d have loved to bring you a review like I normally do, but never fear, our generous Have Wheelchair Will Travel community has come to the rescue. As much as I’d like to have posted about my experience earlier, I was keen to wait to get insights from those with a disability who have had the opportunity to sail on one of the Disney Wonder’s itineraries.

Disney Wonder - accessibility - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

A big thank you to our HWWT readers Kylie-Anne and her sister Lisa and Linda, mum to Harrison who lives with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (follow Harrison to see his Disney Wonder trip on Instagram at @harrison_and_duchenne) for sharing a bit about their trip as wheelchair users travelling on Disney Wonder.




Disney Wonder accessible stateroom

Kylie-Anne and Lisa have shared the following photos of the accessible stateroom they called home during their cruise on Disney Wonder.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

The accessible stateroom is spacious and the bed clearance offers room for the use of a portable hoist if needed.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Harrison’s mum Linda advises that the accessible stateroom her family were allocated “fitted a king single hospital bed side by side with a queen bed and a three seater couch.” She describes the deluxe balcony accessible stateroom as being a “very long room” and added “And Harrison still had just enough room to zip around and get out onto the balcony.”

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

The accessible stateroom offers a bathroom with a shower bench, height-adjustable shower head and emergency call button.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Lisa enjoying Disney Wonder

Linda mentioned in her email to me that, “Our son needed a hospital bed and hoist to accompany us on the trip. Disney Cruises informed us of their requirements in regards to size. After booking Disney reached out to us and informed us that the stateroom we booked wasn’t going to accommodate the bed and took the liberty of upgrading our wheelchair accessible room to a balcony room at no extra cost. Harrison was allocated a deluxe balcony room which was at the rear of the boat and he could access it easily in his wheelchair.”

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Linda said their only challenge was the “carpet in the wheelchair accessible rooms which makes it hard work to manoeuvre a hoist especially when the ship is a bit rocky. We had to hold our son steady in the sling during transfers at times due to the combination of moving the hoist across carpet and being on the high seas and feeling the waves. My calf muscles and hips got a work out”

Disney Cruise Line lists the following pieces of equipment for Guests with disabilities which are available upon request for use in any stateroom.

  • Bedrail
  • Portable toilet
  • Raised toilet seat
  • Shower stool
  • Transfer bench
  • Stateroom Communication Kits containing door knock and phone alerts, bed shaker notification, and a strobe light smoke detector.
  • A stateroom text typewriter (TTY)

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Linda has offered the following feedback on her family’s experience on Disney Wonder.
“Ramps are everywhere. Accessibility was pretty good all around the ship. Many doors have a wheelchair accessible button to push for doors to automatically open. Not only for accessing the deck but also within the wheelchair accessible rooms.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Lifts – there are lifts in the front, middle and rear of the boat, all with 4 elevators. There are 11 levels on the ship and the lifts are in high demand. There was some waiting but we found if we used the lifts at the front or the rear we had very little wait time. Also there was room for the four of us including a power chair, although a bit snug.
Disney Wonder review - accessibility on board - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Staff were accommodating to individual requests. Without asking they provided straws in my son’s drink and a roomy table in the restaurants.”
Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Linda also mentioned, “Wheelchairs have front row seating for the stage shows.  Staff will take your family a back way to the theatre as the main entrance is at the top row of seating. Wheelchair seating is allocated up the back of the movie theatre. During the Marvel Unites show on the top deck there was priority seating for wheelchair users and one carer initially but because there wasn’t a high need for this we were able to sit together as a family.”

Disney Cruise Line offers extensive information for Guests with disabilities so please refer to its website for any specific information.




Disney entertainment

Disney is an entertainment company so you can be assured you’ll be entertained at every turn, whether that’s a meet and greet with your favourite Disney character or a show stopping dinner in one of the restaurants.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

This supposedly grown up gal was pretty chuffed when I spotted Mickey, Minnie, the Princesses and Pluto on board. Nothing beats a cuddle from your favourite Disney character and I can tell you the joy has no age limit. Seeing them in Australia is simply the icing on the cake.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

As we sailed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge the ship’s horn blasted but instead of a forlorn honk it played “When you wish upon a star” which was a delightful surprise and a crowd pleaser. That’s the magic of Disney, there is no detail too small.




Dining on Disney Wonder

Disney Wonder - accessibility - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

After sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and watching a broadway-style show our group was already on a Disney high but more surprises awaited us in the Animator’s Palate where we would dine.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Our wait staff showed us to our table and encouraged us to embrace our creativity and colour the provided table mat. At first everyone was self-conscious and unsure but one by one we all took to colouring in. Curiously our waiters took our drawings as soon as we finished with no hint of what was to come. We were soon distracted chatting and enjoying the food and drinks. I indulged in black truffle pasta followed by Ginger Teriyaki dusted Angus Beef Tenderloin – both delicious. When the main meals were cleared away Mickey Mouse appeared on the screens dotted around the room and soon there were gasps of delight as our drawings came to life as animations. It was incredible to see my fairly unimaginative creation dancing, skating and interacting with some of Disney’s best known characters on the screen. The wonderment in the room spread equally amongst the children and adults.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Disney Wonder offers rotational dining so Guests have the opportunity to experience a variety of restaurants while sailing. What’s special about Disney cruising is that your wait staff remain with you as you rotate through the restaurants. This means the staff get to know your likes and dislikes and can better cater to your needs. A really lovely personalised dining experience.

Kylie-Ann says their best experience for over 18’s is dining at Palo and adds, “it’s worth the additional $60”. Second to Palo, Kylie-Ann enjoyed the Royal Gathering but advises that has to be booked 30 days out.

Linda says “the restaurant Cabana that provides a buffet breakfast and lunch each day was hard to find a table that a wheelchair user in a family group could access. The rest of the tables were tightly fitted together and impossible to access for wheelchairs. We had a choice of tables around the edge of dining table area but they were also popular with other wheelchair users and families with prams. The rest of the dining tables behind were too tightly placed together to access.”

Disney also caters well to any dietary requirements and I’ve been told chefs are happy to blend foods for those that need it.




Kid’s clubs on Disney Wonder

Disney Wonder offers five kid’s clubs and on longer cruises some of the kids programming is opened up to adults too.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Braeden’s first Disney movie obsession was Toy Story. I cannot even take a guess at how many time we’ve watched this movie over the years. When Braeden was little it was on repeat so he would be thrilled to take a peek in the Oceaneer’s Club where children can experience Andy’s room in the most visually appealing kid’s club I’ve seen.

Disney Wonder - wheelchair accessible stateroom - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

The Oceaneers Club also offers an accessible bathroom.

Disney Wonder review - accessibility on board - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Tweens will be entertained at Edge where video games, music and movies are available all day. And inside Vibe, teens can mix and mingle until 2:00am in a parents-free, loft-inspired venue where karaoke and dance parties rule.

Disney Wonder review - accessibility on board - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

I’ve been assured the pools are equipped with chair lifts into the pool but these were not installed on the evening we toured the ship.

Decks are wide and accessible signage is clear throughout the ship.

Both Kylie-Ann and Linda said they would highly recommend the cruise to others.

I may have only had an evening on Disney Wonder but I was well and truly swept up in the Disney spirit. I couldn’t be happier that sailings to Australia and New Zealand will mean more families can experience all that Disney has to offer.

Bookings can be made via Disney Cruise Line.




 

7 thoughts on “Disney Wonder review – accessibility & entertainment”

  1. Hi Julie,

    I am booked on the Disney Wonder leaving Melbourne on 5th Feb. I am taking my 8 yr old grandson who has special needs and this article has made it even more exciting. I use a motorized wheelchair and and a mattress overlay at night. I have been advised that I won’t be able to use the overlay because of the power not being compatible but I can charge my chair. I am wondering if any of the HWWT fellow travelers have had the same issue and if so how was it resolved? Could you also please change my email from maree.jongkryg@sov.net.au to the below.

    Thanks
    Maree

    Reply
    • Hi Maree,
      I’m so glad our review has made you even more excited for your trip.
      I can ask on our Facebook page for you and see if I can get an answer regarding the overlay. What kind of overlay is it?
      Julie

      Reply
      • Hi Julie,

        That would be great. It is an Aspire Active Air 5 overlay that circulates air every 10 minutes to ensure that pressure sores are kept at bay. It lays on top of a normal mattress.

        Thanks
        Maree

        Reply
  2. I’m looking around for a cruise to take my grandson on. He is 18 and has specific needs. This article has certainly opened my eyaes to what is out ther. Thanks

    Reply
    • My pleasure Brian. Cruising works well for many families who have a family member with specific needs. I have several cruise reviews on the website if you search ‘cruise’.
      Best of luck.
      Julie

      Reply

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