Disney Fantasy artwork

There are more than 5,000 pieces of artwork aboard the Disney Fantasy cruise ship. (Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel / March 28, 2012)

Art is in the eye of the beholder, and since the Disney Fantasy can hold 8,000 passenger eyes, it's no wonder the halls are decked with frame after frame of Disney artwork.

The new Disney Cruise Line ship that set sail on its maiden voyage on March 31 has more than 5,000 pieces of art on board including more than 150 pieces in public spaces among the 14 decks of the 1,115-foot, 130,000-ton vessel.

Some of the most striking are the mid-deck murals including a "Peter Pan" nighttime view of London from above and grand vista of the Parisian skyline from "Ratatouille." The Deck 3 hallway past the Royal Court restaurant is an impressive display of castles and palaces from Disney lore including a stunning black and white, moonlit view of Eric's seaside castle from "The Little Mermaid."

"We celebrate a lot of art," said Bob Zalk, a senior show producer with Walt Disney Imagineering. "A lot of this art has never been seen before. People are excited."

The artwork mostly pays deference to Disney animation from classic works including "Fantasia," "Bambi," "Peter Pan," "Cinderella," "Snow White," "Sleeping Beauty," "The Little Mermaid," "The Jungle Book," "Lady and the Tramp," "Pinocchio," "Dumbo" and "Alice in Wonderland." There is a small section that pays homage to Pixar films like "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles" and "Cars" plus many classic features of Disney Animation with Mickey, Donald and Goofy among others.

Zalk said much of that new art includes pencil sketches, character studies and concept art, and much of that is housed as part of the immersive artwork experience that is the Animator's Palate restaurant, where diners also get to see their own drawings come to life as part of the mid-dinner show called Animation Magic.

The unique part of the Disney Cruise Line art is that is doesn't simply play the role of wallflower. It is central to some of the interactive experiences on board.

There are 22 pieces of interactive art, imaginative LCD screen pieces that come to life when the viewer stands in front of them. These are unique and whimsical items such as a pair of frames showing a pirate ship trading cannon fire with a 16th century Castillo or following Alice as she falls down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.

One that drew a lot of spectators on board was on Deck 4 near the atrium -- an old mariner's map of Florida and the northern Caribbean that features the occasional passing of colorful sea life such as a meandering hammerhead shark or scuttling crab.

Near the Walt Disney Theatre are black and white photographic images of the man himself, with his sketchpad coming to life. For a fan of classic Disney animation, these are a particular treat.

The pieces are also central to the three interactive mystery games one can play while on board as part of the Midship Detective Agency. Players hold up cards to the animated art, and the screens then unlock keys to solving the cases. Players make their way around the ship and the game is smart enough to not send everyone to the same piece of art at the same time.

Two of these games debuted on the Fantasy's sister ship the Disney Dream, but since the Fantasy sails on longer seven-day itineraries, a third game was added featuring The Muppets.

The animated art and the interaction it bred through curiosity over what each piece would do, as well as the game-playing utility led many to appreciate the other, inanimate pieces throughout the ship more so than they might normally.

Zalk said the artwork is "increasingly interactive ... empowering. There's something very magical about seeing that."