They certainly know how to put on a party at Disney – the christening ceremony for the new Disney Dream cruise ship was a match for any of the parades in the Orlando theme parks.
There were familiar characters by the score, from Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy, through a collection of princesses, to the Incredibles, and a dazzling display of fireworks which lit up the bright Florida morning sky. There were marching bands and Navy bands, and more singers and dancers than at a high school reunion.
Amid all the well-rehearsed choreography it even had an apparently unscripted moment when Thomas Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, welcomed Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother to the stage.
She wasn’t there to name the ship – the honour went to award-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, a one-time performer on a Disney cruise ship.
Staggs feigned surprise when the little old lady dressed in blue arrived wielding a magic wand. “What are you doing here, Fairy Godmother?” he asked. “I haven’t seen you since the day I got this job.” It was a quietly-nodded “Thank you” from him which hinted he may have gone off-script.
Hudson eventually got to name the ship with the help of a helicopter which smashed a giant Champagne bottle – full of dreams rather than bubbly – against the hull amid a fiesta of flag-waving and fireworks.
After that, the fabled organisational powers of Disney began to fade a little. They had ferried thousands of guests by coach from hotels in Orlando to Port Canaveral, complete with packed breakfasts for every one, and they had even secured perfect weather for the event.
Watch the event here on Disney’s video:
After the event, guests were announced by name and applauded as they boarded the ship and stepped into the three-deck central atrium with its magnificent chandelier and a carpet with a pile deep enough to drown in.
Ahead of them lies a two-day inaugural cruise, visiting the private Disney resort of Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. There will be a special show in the theatre, and gala dinners in the restaurants.
I’ll do my best to get round as much as I can, and be back with more reports later in the week. Internet access is patchy, though – so updates may have to wait.
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