Following last year's announcement of a Beauty and the Beast themed European river cruise, Disney Cruise Lines has opened a spectacular new stage production of Beauty and the Beast exclusively on the Disney Dream. I can’t recommend this show enough—it’s sure to be a highlight of anyone's vacation (maybe even more than the all-you-can-eat-soft-serve)—and who knew you could improve on a trip to the Bahamas?
I have the extreme good fortune to be married to a Disney Imagineer who worked on the production, which allowed me the immense pleasure of sailing on the Dream with our daughter, as Mommy installed and opened this spectacular piece of theater.
The show is the climax of a three- or four-day cruise to the Bahamas, featuring all the usual Disney cruise treats, pools, kids' clubs, parties, character encounters, and the amazing AquaDuck ride—an elevated water coaster that travels the length of the cruise ship.
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Disney Dream's AquaDuck waterslide is an exciting way of touring the ship.
Disney cruises don't exactly skimp on round-the-clock and round-the-deck entertainment, so calling anything the climax of all this excitement is not a thing to be said lightly. There's no question, though, that many families will want to board the ship specifically to enjoy this new Broadway caliber production.
The creative team has drawn elements from the recent live-action film but have also put their own stamp on this "tale as old as time" to make it fresh. Music box versions of classic Disney tunes play and torches burn before the show even begins. Maurice, Belle's father, welcomes the audience by singing the new song How Does a Moment Last Forever? to warmly invite us into the story, which takes place inside one of his music boxes.
The set has a deceptively simple design of just three walls with doors and some pillars. However, these walls are actually massive LED TV screens which can transform instantaneously from Belle's little village to the Beast's castle and everywhere in between without a set change. The entire 60-minute show is packed with swirling movement, tight choreography, and jaw-dropping magic. The Beast's transformation isn't the usual cheap puff-of-smoke; it's a gorgeous feat of illusion that left me stunned.
Belle and Maurice share a moment.
Just like in the cartoon and live-action film, there are a couple of darker moments with the wolves and the Beast, particularly near the beginning. But even if little ones get spooked, no one will bat an eye if you take your toddler out of the theater. Consider making a speedy return—I had to take out my fifteen-month-old for a few minutes, but she loved the rest of the show.
Shortly after the opening number, Maurice gets lost in the woods and chased by wolves, then ends up in the beast's clutches. The lighting in the castle at the beginning is moody and dark and may be scary for smaller cruisers. There is also a second scene with the wolves after Belle escapes that is intense. After that, the coast is clear. For those worried about overwhelming a young one, show your child the movie before you go, or check out a 10-minute sneak peak of the show in this live stream video.
In a show full of highlights, a couple numbers stand out: Be Our Guest is a sumptuous visual feast, and the classic showstopper is part seven-course French meal, part Moulin Rouge, part fashion show, and all campy fun. The dancing in the tavern during Gaston showcases the virtuoso cast of singer-actor-dancer-acrobats. And as if all those talents weren't enough, they're also puppeteers. In another nod to the live-action film, the enchanted objects are brought to life by the performers operating practical-sized puppets. Lumiere is a candelabra that Belle can actually pick up to light her way; Mrs. Potts can even pour her a cup of tea into her son, Chip.
All in all, this epic version of Beauty and the Beast on the Disney Dream is an unforgettable way to end a magical trip. The Disney Dream sails out of Port Canaveral, Florida; check out sailings on the Disney Cruise Line website to see this once-in-a-lifetime show.
Photos courtesy of Disney Cruise Line