Know Before You Go: Disney Cruise Line Lingo

by  Christine Dayao | Mar 5, 2015
Disney Wonder
Disney Wonder / Photo courtesy of the cruise line

[Updated June 2016]

MagicBand, FastPass+, and Magical Express. Disney is notorious for coming up with imaginative names for almost every single one of its concepts. So it didn’t come as a shock in 1998 when Disney Cruise Line took to the sea with some unique monikers for its onboard offerings.

Here, eight Disney Cruise Line names and phrases you should know before you go.

1. Rotational dining
Regular cruisers are accustomed to eating in a main dining room every night of their trip. When Disney Cruise Line launched, it was the first liner to introduce rotational dining. Each night, your party dines at one of three main dining venues on the ship, where you’re joined by your own serving staff. It gives everyone a chance to try a variety of cuisines and get personalized service.

2. Port Adventures
Simply put, Port Adventures are the Disney-fied name for shore excursions -- activities you have the option of taking when in port. You’ll find the same kind of excursions here as on other ships, but some have a distinctively Disney twist, like this summer’s stop in Norway when characters from Frozen make their first appearance in the land that inspired the backdrop for the mega-hit movie.

3. Key to the World Card
If you’ve been to Disneyland or Disney World, you’re already familiar with the Key to the World Card, a fancy name given to your stateroom key. Not only do you use it to open the door, it’s what you show when getting on and off the ship, where you find your rotational dining schedule, and how you charge items to your shipboard account. If you’re sailing on the Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, you’ll also have to pop it into a slot near your stateroom door to power up electricity in the room. (Tip: The lights in the split bathroom are usually the first to go out, so double-check that your other half doesn’t get left in the dark when you exit.)

4. Castaway Cay
Here’s a little slice of Disney in the Bahamas. Guests sailing on Bahamian and Caribbean cruises are treated to a day -- or two, depending on the itinerary -- on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. (On our first visit there, we were surprised to find that hints of Disney on the island are actually quite subtle.) Like the ship, Castaway Cay is separated into areas for different age groups, with an adults-only beach, a family beach, and an area for teens. You can book different activities, like kayaking, snorkeling, parasailing, and biking -- or just stake out a spot to lounge and enjoy the view.

5. AquaDuck and AquaDunk
Want a real thrill? Check out the cruise industry’s first-ever water coaster at sea, the AquaDunk, aboard the Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, where you’ll travel 765 feet through a transparent tube and make a loop out around the edge of the ship. In 2013, the fleet’s first ship, the Disney Magic, went into dry dock for about two months for some extensive renovations, which included the addition of the AquaDunk, a three-story body slide that juts out over the ocean.

6. Pirate Night
For one night on select cruises, you’ll get a taste of the pirate life when the entire ship gets into the buccaneer spirit. On Pirate Night, you’ll be given a bandana to wear to the celebration, which includes a special pirate-themed menu, music from Pirates of the Caribbean, a deck party, and the piece de resistance -- fireworks -- followed by a huge buffet. Many cruisers go all out for the festivities, wearing puffy shirts, vests, corsets, and eye patches. The popularity of this night has led to the upcoming addition of several sailings with a Star Wars Day at Sea and a Frozen Deck Party.

7. Castaway Club
Once you’ve completed your first cruise, you’ll have automatic membership in Disney’s Castaway Club -- a repeat cruisers program that offers benefits like stateroom gifts, advance booking for Port Adventures, a lanyard with a special Key to the World Card, an exclusive newsletter, and more. There are three levels to the Castaway Club: silver (1-4 cruises), gold (5-10 voyages), and platinum for those who have gone on more than 10 sailings.

8. Land and sea vacation
Want to combine a trip to Disney World with a sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line from Port Canaveral? With a land and sea vacation, you can do just that with two options: making the “land” part of the vacation a pre- or post-addition to the cruise, or booking both legs separately.

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