And there’s actually a way adults can visit, too.
The Disney Wish, Disney Cruise Line’s newest ocean liner, which made her maiden voyage this summer, has a lot of razzle-dazzle. It’s big (with more than 70% veranda staterooms for its 4,000 passengers) and beautiful (the atrium is a literal fairy tale castle). But most importantly: It’s a haven for Indoor Kids, a.k.a. children who sunburn easily, dress like they’re from the 1940s, and would rather stay inside and read a good book. I was an Indoor Kid. I’m still an Indoor Kid. And there’s a space aboard the Disney Wish that would have rocked my bookish little heart: Belle’s Library. You can read inside Belle’s Library. It’s a ’90s dream come true. Here are all the magical details about this space, plus how adults can take a peek inside, too.
The Coolest Kids Club Ever
Disney Cruise Line has made many smart tweaks to the cruise industry to stake its claim as the most family-friendly fleet. All cabins feature tiny little bathtubs with kiddos in mind. Because trying to bathe your toddler in a cruise shower is pure chaos. And unlike most of the ocean cruise industry, Disney ships don’t have a casino. With all that extra space, there’s square footage for massive kids’ clubs. Plural. Other brands lump all kids together, but DCL meticulously designs curated hangouts for every age–from the It’s a Small World-themed nurseries to the super posh The Vibe for high schoolers. But the coolest of all is the Oceaneer Club for kids 3-12. It’s just as immersive as themed lands in the Disney Parks.
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For starters, there’s a secret passage. Sure, you can take the stairs or the elevator, but your kiddo can also go down the rabbit hole à la Alice in Wonderland via the secret slide off the main Grand Hall. It spits you out right into the Oceaneer Club. (If you’re getting FOMO, adults do have the opportunity, too. More on that in a bit.) And once you’re in, it’s kind of like a mini amusement park with five different themed areas.
There’s Marvel Super Hero Academy with gesture-based video games and the chance to design your own Marvel costume. There’s also Star Wars: Cargo Bay, where you might see characters such as Chewbacca or Rey. Mickey and Minnie Captain’s Deck is the cutest nautical-themed indoor playground for the youngest club members. And there’s also the Walt Disney Imagineering Lab, which is a brand-new concept for kids and kind of feels like STEM-learning meets Disney. You can learn the fundamentals of design and then create your own theme park ride via virtual simulators. But none of that matters because I’m here to talk about Fairytale Hall. This regal annex features Rapunzel’s Art Studio, Anna and Elsa’s Sommerhus with gesture-based video games, and Belle’s Library. You’ll know it when you see the rose medallion on the floor and the twinkling rose constellation on the ceiling above.
Belle’s Libary IRL
Full stop: Belle is the best Disney Princess. Yes, the tale as old as time may be littered with misogynistic messaging, a lack of agency for women, complete misunderstanding and compassion for mental health, and that little thing called Stockholm syndrome, but the library, y’all. The library. Three floors of books with sweeping balconies and stairs on stairs on stairs with a massive fireplace and a tufted sofa. It makes The Old Library and the Book of Kells look like Big Lots. And while there’s not enough room to recreate a full, ballroom-sized library aboard a cruise ship, somehow DCL has brought this smaller space to life in a way that feels just as grand and with the same aesthetic as if you’ve walked right into the Beast’s Castle.
Easter Eggs + Disney ASMR
In this library, there are floor-to-ceiling bookshelves set in ornate built-in cabinets. It’s all very Rococo and incredibly sophisticated for children with gilded trim, embellished sconces with candles that really look like they’re flickering, and elaborate gold flourishes in the carpet. Even the kid-sized chairs have an 18th-century wood carved-inspired trim. It’s spot on. And so are the Disney Easter eggs, from mini gallery walls of paintings to the subtle nods to other Disney princesses and fairy tales on books in the cabinets. And then there’s the fireplace. It’s the most magical vignette of all because it’s cozy.
“It’s very soothing,” said Lauren Fong, Project Manager for Walt Disney Imagineering. “It’s a little more chill in here.” One big reason: The fireplace is basically one big sound machine. It’s Disney ASMR with crackles, pops, and flickers that mimic a real wood-burning fireplace. Pair that with the ambient music riffs of Fairytale Hall (which has that soft vibe of the instrumental music you listen to while you’re waiting for a wedding ceremony to get started), and its spa music for kids. Sit by the faux fire long enough, and you’ll notice something about the portrait hanging above. It’s enchanted. “It changes to show different moments throughout Belle’s journey,” said Fong.
The Most Magical Writer’s Workshop
Simply having a dedicated, quiet retreat to withdraw and dive into a chapter book is magic enough. But it’s Belle’s Library, so sometimes she pops in to chat with fellow book lovers. Throughout sailings, one activity is a collaborative effort and gives kids a chance to create a new story for Belle. The bookkeeper (because God bless a man giving a woman books to read in provincial 1700s France) even makes an appearance and explains to the kids that Belle has read all the books in the library (duh), and now they need help to create a brand-new story together.
According to DCL, “Belle and the bookkeeper introduce the various elements of creating a story providing examples seen in classic Disney animated films using her magic mirror. Once the story elements are established, the children help perform the brand-new story for Belle.” As an Indoor Kid who dreamed of one day being an author, my eight-year-old jaw would have dropped to the floor at the chance to participate in this literary salon.
Touring this space as an adult, I couldn’t help but think, “I wish I were a kid.” It’s a level of immersive entertainment that didn’t exist in the ’80s and ’90s. And Disney knows it. So, there is an opportunity to visit these spaces regardless of age during each sailing. It’s your magic, nostalgic wish granted. You can even take the slide, permitting there’s a crew member present. During DCL open house hours, you can visit all the kids club spaces. Typically, there’s an open house on embarkation day before the cruise sets sail and again during days with a port of call. Days at sea usually do not have open house hours as kids are using the spaces–those lucky little people who didn’t even pay for the cruise but get access to most exclusive, coolest space.