Debuting in 1998, the oldest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet received one-of-a-kind upgrades including a water slide called the Aqua Dunk.
"This is a thrill experience that we wanted to give the older guests on our ships an opportunity to experience," said Disney Cruise Line president Karl Holst. "That drop going down is pretty dramatic...first thing you say to yourself is 'Why did I come up here?' and ... at that point in time your children are watching and you can't chicken out."
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The ride takes all of 8 seconds, allowing riders taller than 48 inches to be closed into a tube, listen to a 3-2-1 countdown and then be dropped through bomb-bay doors into darkness before whipping around out over the side of the boat in a translucent casing and splashing down three decks below. It definitely raises the adrenaline quotient for all of DCL's four ships.
"I just went on the AquaDunk and I thought I was going to die," said a breathless Tracy Whipple of Wisconsin. "Did you hear me?"
Basically, the ride brings out either a scream, a whoa or a whooooo. Whipple was one of the screamers.
"I don't go on waterslides. I had a lot of people tell me I had to do it, so I agreed to do it," Whipple explained. "when I saw what it looked like, I almost chickened out at the top when I heard the person ahead of me screaming but I did it anyways. I will probably try it again."
Julie Kramer of New Jersey was more excited to try it out. Before riding, she said she expected to be a breath-holder, not a screamer.
"I lied. I did lie. I screamed like a little girl," she said. "I will do it like 10 more times."
While the AquaDunk is the star of the redesigned ship, the top deck features another crowd pleaser, a new twisting slide called the Twist 'n Shout. That's been combined with the AquaLab water play area that first debuted on the Disney Fantasy.
"On the Fantasy, there's so much going on there," said Disney Imagineering Chief Creative Executive Bruce Vaughn. "With the scale of the Magic and re-imagining the Magic we just felt the integration of that area and really being able to weave together the Twist 'n Shout slide with the play area was just going to be the right design for the ship."
One other draw for the line's flagship is the introduction of the first full-time Marvel universe attraction in the Disney empire with Marvel's Avengers Academy in the kids Oceaneer's Club.
The Avengers-themed section of the child-focused play area features an interactive game in which users have their likeness projected onto a screen and the Iron Man suit flies onto their body. There's also Captain America wandering about doing a very good impression of actor Chris Evans from the films.
"It was just about the time when we started brainstorming what these new children's spaces were going to be about when we got word that we were going to have Marvel as part of our family," explained Disney Imagineering Creative Executive Joe Lanzisero. "And then the 'Avengers' film comes out and it's a huge hit and it's an exciting place and it's so aspirational. Most of our films have some sort of aspiration to it and what kid wouldn't want to be a superhero?"
The new Oceaneer's Club also features a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse-inspired area, Andy's Room from "Toy Story" and Pixie Hollow. The Mickey Mouse-themed area is a first for the line.
"How do you bring those stories, those characters those experiences to life," Holz said. "Whether it's an interaction with Captain America, whether it's going into Andy's Room and just pretending, 'I'm really in the room.' It's a larger-than-life experience, where the kids feel like, 'I'm in the set, I'm part of the story.'"
One of the most striking changes on board is in the redone Animator's Palate restaurant. While the updated restaurant will allow cruisers to experience the Animation Magic show introduced on the Disney Fantasy, it's the new "Drawn to Magic" show that is also offered that drew Holz's praise. That show features black-and-white drawings of Disney characters from the more than 50 full-length animated features of Disney film history slowly being brought to life on the walls while the diners enjoy their dinners. Then color floods the room and the screens turn into a medley of scenes from across the films, knocking out theme by theme, such as villains, love, death and redemption.
"That one really touches the heart," Holz said. "To me it's an absolute classic, a new classic is the way I would take a look at it. It brings back the memories that we adults have grown up as far as Disney is concerned and you see a tear falling, but at the same point in time you may see one of the recent Pixar pictures and you see the children come to life."
Another new feature is the Carioca's restaurant, a Brazilian-themed dining experience with Jose Carioca of "The Three Caballeros" as its namesake.
All of the new features meld nicely with the original design of the ship, an art-deco approach meant to evoke the feel of cruising from the early 1900s.
Chris Rapp of West Palm Beach was on the ship with his wife. He said the two were big fans of changes.
"It's spectacular. It looks great," Rapp said. "We love the ship. For us it's a great place to be. Feels like home."
The Magic continues to sail three- and four-night Bahamas cruises out of Port Canaveral before heading to Europe for the summer. In the fall, the Magic will return to Port Canaveral to begin seven-night western Caribbean cruises in addition to four special itineraries out of Puerto Rico.
"We have become known for exceeding expectations," Holz said. "We have become known for delivering incredible vacation experiences. This re-imagining of the Magic basically gives us the opportunity to set the bar even higher -- new stories, new experiences...creating memories that endure, that's what it's all about and that's what we're going to continue to do."