Disney Cruise Line christened its newest cruise ship Disney Wish on Wednesday in a spectacular ceremony featuring fireworks and appearances by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Ant-Man, Chewbacca and other characters from the Disney universe.
While the new Disney Wish is the cruise line’s most advanced and ambitious ship to date, Disney Cruise Line is also looking at expansion within the virtual realm, through the metaverse, according to Bob Chapek, CEO of Walt Disney Company.
“[Aboard Disney Wish] we combine amazing characters and stories with incredible technology to create brand new experiences,” he told Reuters, adding that the cruise line is now planning to go even further.
Disney Wish boasts an interactive experience that bring together the physical and digital worlds through an app turns a user’s phone into a virtual “spyglass” for finding constellations in the night sky (which appear as Disney and Pixar characters) and embarking on adventures.
Chapek says this is the first step toward establishing a presence in the metaverse, so that the cruise line can keep consumers connected to Disney characters and stories in between movie releases, park visits, or cruises.
The potential for cruise lines to expand into the virtual realm was made apparent during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when several cruise brands began operating ‘digital’ cruises through their social media platforms.
The UK cruise line Fred Olsen led the charge, with daily videos from different locations, as well as travel blog posts and daily activities intended to reflect some of the events that would otherwise take place aboard its ships during a cruise.
Expansion into the metaverse, a fully-immersive virtual reality touted by Facebook through its augmented reality headsets, would be a far more sophisticated version of that concept.
It’s difficult to see how the metaverse could compete with the real-world Disney Wish, though. The 144,000-gross ton ship (the first of a trio of sister ships), is a hotel resort and Disney park all in one.
It features Disney Cruise Line’s first attraction at sea, the AquaMouse, a theme-park-like ride that incorporates animated short films featuring Mickey and other characters as guests float through 760 feet (230 meters) of winding tubes suspended above the upper decks.
Dining experiences will also place families inside the worlds of Disney’s “Frozen” and Marvel’s Avengers, while there is even a Star Wars-themed hyperspace lounge for adults that evokes the look of star cruisers in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
That’s in addition to several new full musical productions and various entertainment options for families and adults in myriad dedicated spaces throughout the ship. She will set sail on her maiden voyage on July 14th, cruising year-round to the Caribbean out of Port Canaveral.