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Experience the magic of Disney Cruise Line's children's program

By Christin Michaud

Wishdrawals Travel

Disney is known for magical moments for guests and that holds true for Disney Cruise Line as well. Children of all ages can experience some of the best children’s programming at sea aboard the Disney Magic, the Disney Wonder, Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream and the Disney Wish.

The programs include the it’s a small world nursery for infants and toddlers 6 months to 3 for a nominal fee, the Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club for children ages 3-10, the Edge for tweens from 11-14 and the Vibe for teens 14-17, all included with your cruise fare.

Each program provides several themed areas and age-appropriate activities, games, interactive play and more.

  Disney Cruise Line recently made a change with the age groups to better serve children in the Oceaneer Lab and Club, which in previous years was available for children through age 12. Due to the large age range and in the interest of providing the best care for children without feeling intimidated, the lab and club now offers programming for children up to age 10. In fact, did you know that the ceilings on the decks used for the lab and club are lower so it feels more kid-sized? For the youngest cruises in this program, there are guided activities in place just for 3 and 4-year olds, created just for them under the direction of Disney’s Youth Counselors.

While the change may be disappointing for families with both younger and older siblings originally wanting to be together, there are several opportunities during the Open House programming for all ages (that includes teens, parents and even the littles) to explore the unique areas created for children 3-17. This is a great preview for when they are older as well.

DCL Oceaneer Club Mickey and Minnie Captain's Deck


The difference between the Lab and the Club


The Oceaneer Lab is available on the Disney Magic, Wonder, Dream and Fantasy and is focused more on hands-on interactive experiences where children can learn and explore. The Oceaneer Club is where imagination comes to life with creative activities, dress up options, immersive experiences with characters. While in either the Lab or the Club, they have the availability to enjoy both spaces which connect.


My children have personally experienced each of the programs since we first cruised with Disney in 2006.


One of my favorite memories is when my son was in the it’s a small world nursery as a toddler while my husband and I shared a dinner by ourselves prior to my deployment in the military. The nursery allowed us the opportunity to spend quality time as a couple as well as family time during the rest of the cruise. When we finished dinner and went to the nursery to pick him up, he was sitting in a rocking chair on Snow White’s lap while she read him a story. It was priceless and one of the many reasons I’ve fallen in love with Disney Cruise Line. 

Another memory that stands out is when my daughter was in love with Belle, but we had been swimming so we rushed down to the Oceaneer Lab for storytime with Belle during an open house and we were the only ones there. Belle read her a story and then took her by the hand and walked her around and they talked about the areas of the club. It was so precious. Photos aren’t authorized during normal programming but I was able to be there and take photos for the open house.

From FriendSHIP performances, moments with characters at Pluto’s Pajama Party, or Storytime with Belle and immersive activities like the Marvel Hero Academy or Anyone Can Cook, my children have made hundreds of incredible memories and friends throughout the years.

Little ones will receive a Magic Band unique to Disney Cruise Line, which is used to sign in and out of the programming. Parents or guardians also must provide their Key to the World card (room key) to sign out the children and are also required to provide the password on file as an added protective measure. You may also designate other guests in your sailing party like older siblings, grandparents or others to sign the children out on your behalf, which came in handy when my son was older and my daughter didn’t want to be picked up and wanted to stay until midnight instead when they close.

Disney Cruise Line Kid's Club Slide on Disney Wish

For added fun, Disney’s littlest cruisers can also enter the club down a slide on the newest ship in the fleet, the Disney Wish. Once they get to the bottom they will have a world of wonder available to them to explore.


Outside food is not permitted due to allergies. An exception is for medical reasons. My daughter has Type 1 diabetes and packs a bag with fast-acting carbs in the event her blood sugar goes too low. The counselors keep her bag up front at the check in desk in case she needs it).


Registering for the Oceaneer Lab or Club


Cruisers can register their children during the online check in process or once they get onboard. On embarkation day, the youth spaces are open for children and their parents to explore. Once the ship sails away, parents may only enter during a scheduled open house (times are available on the DCL Navigator App).


Disney Cruise Line Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club handwashing station

Registration isn’t required for specific times during your voyage, you’ll just bring them by when they open (usually at 9 or 10 a.m.) and then pick them up when they close (usually midnight). While they may have an open house at either the Oceaneer Lab or the Oceaneer Club, it will never be at the same time, so care is available the entire time, unlike other cruise lines where kid’s programs close for meal times and other intervals.


The programming continues at Scuttles Cove, a place for children on Disney’s private island Castaway Cay (pronounced key). Scuttles Cove is at the first tram stop and is essentially a large sand box with several shaded areas with the counselors they already know from the ship. This is a great way for parents who want to head over to Serenity Bay, the adult-only beach at Castaway Cay. The first time we wanted to try it, we went for a couple of hours but didn’t want to feel like we were abandoning our daughter at Scuttles Cove, but when we came back to pick her up, she wasn’t ready to leave so we spent the rest of our time at the family beach so she could play longer.


Disney sure knows how to care for their young guests as well as the young at heart. Your Wishdrawals agent can help you find the right cruise for your family and assist with any questions you may have on the kid’s programs available on Disney Cruise Line.


Stay tuned for a future blog where we feature the tween and teen programs, the Edge and Vibe.


Christin Michaud has been a travel planner with Wishdrawals Travel for 6 years and has sailed more than 20 times with Disney Cruise Line personally experiencing all five Disney’s ships.


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