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AquaDuck to bring theme park thrills out onto the high seas

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AquaDuck to bring theme park thrills out onto the high seas

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You want proof that The Walt Disney Company is serious about its commitment to creativity & technology? Then look no further than the Disney Dream, that 128,000 ton vessel which is currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

Disney introduces it's latest ship the Disney Dream
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

This past Thursday, Disney Cruise Line held an event in NYC where they then showcased this ship. Rachel Quinn, Cruise Director of the Disney Dream, first welcomed the crowd to Guastavino’s.

Disney's new cruise ship the Disney Dream
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Then Bob Iger came on stage to talk about many of the innovations that will be found on the newest ship in Disney’s fleet.

Disney CEO Bob Iger introduces the new cruise ship, the Disney Dream
Photo by Nancy Stadler

And chief among these will be the AquaDuck, a first-of-its-kind shipboard water coaster. Standing four decks in height, this high-speed flume ride will send Guests careening around the ship. And at one point in their 765-foot journey, these brave souls will actually zoom 13 feet over the side of the Disney Dream. And all that will stand between them and a 150 foot drop straight down into the ocean is a 1 ½ inch thick acrylic tube.

The Disney Dream premieres in 2011
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At Thursday night’s event, I got the chance to talk with Peter Ricci, one of the Imagineers who rode herd on the AquaDuck project. And according to Ricci, the Disney Dream’s on-board water coaster has been in the works for about five years now. It will be constructed out of 20 foot-long pieces of 52 inch-wide clear acrylic piping.

The new Disney Cruise ship The Disney Dream
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

If all goes according to plan, the AquaDuck will be able to launch 180 2-person rafts per hour. With high-powered water jets (which – while making use of the same technology that used in Typhoon Lagoon’s Crush-n-Gusher raft ride -- will send 10,0000 gallons of water zooming through this flume per minute) then pushing these Guests along at 20 feet per second.

The Disney Dream is the newest Disney Cruise ship and will make its debut in 2011
Photo by Nancy Stadler

According to Peter, the Disney Dream’s water coaster will have a theoretical hourly ride capacity of 360 Guests. That said, given the number of people who might hesitate just before launch due to that whole 13-feet-out-from-the-side-of-the-ship, 150-foot-drop-down-to-the-ocean aspect of this on-board thrill ride … Ricci eventually then revised his THRC estimate down to 240 Guests per hour.

Now where this gets interesting is that – while the AquaDuck won’t have a weight limit (i.e. if you & that 2-person raft can actually fit inside of a 52-inch acrylic tube, you’re then good to go) – there will be a height restriction placed on the Disney Dream water coaster. And if you’re under 48 inches, you’ll then be turned away and encouraged to try out that Mickey-themed water slide down on Deck 11.

The Aquaduck water coaster is all anyone can talk about on the Disney Dream cruise ship
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Once you start your journey on the AquaDuck up on Deck 16, you’ll enjoy the up-and-down sensations that you typically experience on a coaster. You’ll also encounter some specialized lighting effects as you zoom through the forward funnel. Which is also home to Edge, the Disney Dream’s exclusive tween lounge.

Mind you, those 11-to-13 year-olds who are hanging out in Edge will actually be able to watch Guests as they zoom along this water flume. Sort of. To explain: The section of AquaDuck that passes through the forward funnel will have three portholes which will then allow these tweens to see the silhouettes of all the people passing by.

Once you passed through Edge, your raft then enters 335 feet of rapids before you then splashdown on Deck 12. But before you do that, you get a stunning view of the upper decks of the Disney Dream as well as the ocean surrounding the ship.

The Disney Dream is Disney's latest state of the art cruise ship
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This sounds like a very cool ride, don't you think? Well, if you'd prefer a first person perspective of what it might actually be like to experience the AquaDuck, then be sure and check out that video that Disney Cruise Line just posted on YouTube. Which is a CG simulation of what a trip on the Disney Dream's water coaster will mostly be like.

The AquaDuck was just one aspect of DCL’s newest ship that I got to learn about on Thursday night. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be sharing other stories about the Disney Dream. But if you just can’t wait to learn more about this 1115 foot-long vessel, then I suggest that you pick up the Winter 2009 issue of Disney twenty-three magazine

Disney's newest cruise ship the Disney Dream features a state of the art water coaster
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

... Where – in addition to Paul F. Anderson’s terrific “Zorro Rides Again” article (which reveals how this pulp favorite of the 1930s & 1940s became a TV sensation in the 1950s) and Max Lark’s informative article on the making of “The Princess & the Frog” -- features David Sockol’s piece about the Disney Dream. Where Joe Lanzisero, the senior vice president in charge of Creative at Walt Disney Imagineering, walks you deck-by-deck through this ship.

David’s “Dream Boat” does a great job of describing what makes the Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship so dreamy. Mind you, it’s not as cool as having Lanzisero himself describe what makes the Disney Dream so special …

Joe Lansizero points out features on the Disney Dream model
Joe Lanzisero (red lanyard) points out some of the innovative features
that will be found on the Disney Dream.
  Photo by Nancy Stadler

… but it’s pretty darn close.

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