It’s no secret that Disney is all about kids! We’ve learned however that as Disney widens their experiences for the kids, much of it is to benefit the adults as well. A happy child makes it much easier to be a happy parent, right?! So, as you set sail on the Disney Cruise Line, keep in mind that Disney offers an Oceaneer Club and Lab for children ages 3-12. While you may be thinking this is just an excuse for parents to get away, it’s really the kids that benefit the most! Check out these eight things you’ll want to know about Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Lab.
1 – Two Experiences in One
On the Disney Cruise Line, you’ll find two locations for ages 3-12. One is the Oceaneer Club and the other is the Oceaneer Lab. Both areas have their own entrances but there is a large room that separates the two that also allows kids to explore from one side to the other. The main difference in the two areas is their play/activity options. The Lab side has several gaming components with iPads and game systems among tables with arts and crafts, television screens playing Disney movies, plus other high-tech entertainment. The Club side was our kids’ favorite because it’s more interactive play with a dance floor, large meeting space, and themed rooms that jet off the main room such as Andy’s Room or the Millennium Falcon screen and controls.
2 – Registration Logistics
When you do your online check-in for your Cruise, you’ll be prompted to let the system know more about your kids coming on board. Questions like allergies, special needs, who can pick up your child from the club, and even a secret word are requested. All of this is a form of registration to prepare you for the arrival of your child to the Oceaneer Club & Lab. When you arrive at the Club with your child, you’ll still have a few things to complete for registration so plan a little extra time that first visit to the Club. It’s hard to believe, but the cost to participate in the Oceaneer Club & Lab is NOTHING. It’s totally free! The only payment you’ll make is for a MagicBand that each child is to wear throughout their visit in the Club. They scan this band when checking in and checking out of the Club. When you first get the MagicBand it is roughly $13 but if you return the band at the end of your cruise, that money goes right back to your account. Want the MagicBand as a keepsake? Go ahead and keep it but the charge for the band will remain.
3 – Locations & Hours
The location of the Oceaneer Club and Lab are right next to each other. They are also conveniently situated close (but far enough away) to the Adult lounges and clubs on the ship. The hours are typically between 9:00 am and midnight. We left our kids to play in the Club for no more than an hour at a time. This was enough time for us to enjoy an adult activity and a drink or two. Each child is different, but our kids were ready to leave the Club after an hour or so. They were always ready for the next thing offered on the ship or just another ride on the AquaDuck!
4 – Loaded with Youth Activities
Even though kids can wander about the Oceaneer Club and Lab on their own (of course with close Cast Member supervision), there are also organized activities that our kids loved. These are usually run by one of the very energetic Cast Members and can be anything from ball games, to sing-alongs, scavenger hunts, and even Disney Character encounters. You never know when Stitch, Belle, Tianna, Goofy and many others may just pop in for a visit to hang out with the kids.
5 – Impressive Security
Nothing is more difficult as a parent than dropping your kids off with people you don’t know. Thankfully with Disney, we know the level of Cast Members brought in for the Oceaneer Club is paramount. They are truly the ones that make the experience magical and safe for the kids. We were overly impressed with the security procedures. You must bring your key card to pick up your child. This is scanned and the Cast Member informs you where exactly your child is located within the Club (using the MagicBand chip). They then make sure you match the image on their screen of the person allowed to pick up your child. They also match the child’s image to make sure you are taking the correct kid. Finally, they ask for a secret word you’ve decided on as a family before you can leave. It’s incredible really and very reassuring knowing the drop-off and pick up process is so secure.
6 – Ease of Being Reached
Before you set out to enjoy some adult activities, be sure to bring along the Wave phone in your room to receive alerts from the Oceaneer Club. If you don’t want to carry this phone with you, you can also use your Cruise Navigator App to receive text alerts. We had both on hand as there were some issues with the Cruise Navigator App the first day of the cruise and we were concerned we wouldn’t get a message if needed. The Cast Members will text you if something should arise that concerns them or if your kids are just ready to be picked up. It’s reassuring to know you’re just a text away!
7 – Cleanliness
You always hear of people getting sick on a cruise because of the volume of people in such a contained space. We were happy to see a quite impressive hand washing stations available at the entrance/exit of the Oceaneer Club & Lab. When kids enter and exit, they are encouraged to wash their hands. Soap dispenses and kids put their hands in a hand washing machine that does the work for them for the most part. Our 3-year-old thought these machines were going to suck him in, so he preferred the standard wipes and sink. Our 10-year-old, however, thought these machines were awesome.
8 – Overall Experience
Overall, the kids loved their Oceaneer Club & Lab experience. Our 3-year-old son asked us several times if he could go play. He stays at home normally, so this was a surprise that he was so eager to leave Mom and Dad. Once he was there though, he was ready to get back to us after about an hour in. We got a text the first time we dropped him off that he was ready to be picked up about 45 minutes in. Our 10-year-old daughter spent most of her time following her brother around and doing what he would like to do as she’s a natural babysitter! She still had a good time, however, and was happy with a daily visit to the club. When we do another Disney Cruise, we have no doubt our kids will be on the lookout for what’s new at the Oceaneer Club & Lab!
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