Disney launches cruise ship

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

For 2011, Disney's Imagineers have turned their creative attention from theme parks to cruise ships and resort hotels.

The tech-filled Disney Dream 4,000-passenger cruise ship is to set sail for the Bahamas in January, and the tropical Aulani resort in Hawaii will open in August.

The Florida-based Disney Dream applies theme-park whimsy and fun to a cruise ship. The ballyhooed virtual portholes will combine a live video feed of the sea with animated Disney characters, providing interior staterooms with a view.

In the ship's hallways and corridors, enchanted artwork will come to life when passengers pause to examine the illustrations.

Interactive floors in the onboard youth clubs will double as room-size multiplayer video games, with themes linked to the latest Disney movies.

At dinnertime, passengers will interact with "Finding Nemo" characters on LCD screens in the Animator's Palate restaurant.

The debut of the Dream means the Disney Wonder will be repositioned in 2011 to the West Coast for cruises to the Mexican Riviera and Alaska.

The cruise ships may be all about bells and whistles, but Disney's new Aulani hotel has been designed to blend into its Hawaiian surroundings. The 21-acre oceanfront resort, on the west side of Oahu, will have 360 hotel rooms and 481 timeshare units.

Disney Imagineers tried to strike a balance between fun for the kids and relaxation for their parents, by keeping the two camps separate except at key times.

The kids will play in a volcano-themed swimming pool surrounded by water slides, a lazy river, a snorkeling lagoon and a water play area. Adults can partake of massage treatments, yoga sessions, saunas and steam rooms, sunset-facing hot tubs and, of course, cocktail lounges.

Families will come together for meals at table service and buffet-style restaurants specializing in island seafood and, of course, featuring Disney characters.

Info: http://www.disneycruise.disney.go.com, resorts.disney.go.com/aulani-hawaii-resort

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