*Michael Davie is a senior project manager and a member of Walt Disney’s famous Imagineering team. Since joining Disney in November 1997, the Chicago native has worked assiduously on Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, and various other projects.
Davie’s latest team effort was the planning of the Disney Dream where he was very instrumental and the “go to” person involved with some of the ship’s biggest projects. Davie saw his work come to life at the christening of the Disney Dream in Cape Canaveral, Florida, that took place on Wednesday, January 19, 2011.
As he sat in the VIP section, Davie watched along with some 3,000 guests as Jennifer Hudson, the official godmother of the Disney Dream, was joined by Disney CEO Bob Iger and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs to christen the lavish ship. And as an enormous “champagne bottle” filled with dreams of adventure, romance and fun was lifted into the air by helicopter and broken across the bow of the 130,000-ton ship setting off a stunning firework display across the sky. For Davie, it was seeing another dream come to fruition.
As one of three senior project managers on the Imagineering design team, Davie was responsible for managing some of the core consultants/designers, and certain portions of the schedule and budgets. He was also involved with the consultant in the profile of the ship. “I have been with the company for 13 years and have worked on several hotel, DVC and conceptual concepts for several projects,” he stated. “I have been working on the cruise line project on and off since 2003 and most recently from the fall of 2006.”
The Disney Dream is the majestic third ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. Boasting 14 towering decks, a ship length of 1,115 feet and a maximum width of 125 feet, the 130,000-ton vessel includes 1,250 staterooms and has the capacity to comfortably accommodate 4,000 passengers — along with the over 1,458 crew members who tend to the needs of every cruise guest each and every day.
Building on the classic style of the previous 2 ships, the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, the Disney Dream is a valiant vessel distinguished for its classic early 20th-century design — which harkens back to the golden age of cruising — and state-of-the-art technology.
Davie, who received degrees is in Civil Engineering from Florida A&M University, was responsible for managing the following spaces on the Disney Dream: The Walt Disney Theatre, Buena Vista Theatre, D Lounge, The District (Pink, 687, District Lounge, Skyline Lounge and Evolution),Vibe, Cove Cafe, Waves Bar, Currents Bar, Cabanas, Vista Gallery and portions of the upper decks. He also worked on the exterior of the ship, upper decks and water features – Nemo’s Reef, AquaDuck and Mickey Slide.
His handsome face lights up when you ask him about his favorite project on the Disney Dream. “It’s like asking me who my favorite child is,” he laughs. However, he pointed out that he truly enjoyed working on The District, an extraordinary adult-exclusive nighttime entertainment area that features sophisticated bars and lounges. All venues in The District are interconnected and convey a sense of discovery as guests move throughout the areas. Or they can visit a different club each night.
“Here, adults can indulge and relax in adults-only nighttime entertainment district, restaurant, spa, or private pool,” he proudly boasts. “It’s nothing like walking into a big room and you’re the first person there. That doesn’t feel very comfortable.” said Davie. “So, that was our whole premise behind this whole District concept.”
District Lounge is the first entertainment venue encountered when entering The District. Here, guests will find a relaxed atmosphere with comfortable seating and an open floor plan. Guests can unwind with their favorite cocktail from the full-service bar and enjoy live piano music and entertainment before moving further through The District.
The Skyline lounge, where large screens capture the skylines of vibrant metropolitan cities, is another favorite watering spot. Sitting at the Skyline’s bar, guests feel as if they’re looking down on a teeming city with its twinkling lights and moving cars. On some visits, it will be a daytime scene. Later, it might be nightfall in Paris, New York, Chicago, Hong Kong or Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The music and bar-food menu shift with the cities. “We have flexibility with all those things,” said Davie. “Throughout the course of the night, we could do all five cities.”
Another memorable space, Pink, is located just beyond the District Lounge. “This space is all about romance,” said Davie “and it’s easy to see why.” Accented with luxurious velvet, marble and wood finishes, it is the perfect spot for an after-dinner cocktail or a champagne toast.
“In Pink, all design elements are inspired by champagne,” said Davie. “Light fixtures are shaped like champagne flutes, couches are positioned in a bubble-shaped banquette and the bar is backed by 300 hand-blown, pink-and-white pieces of glass. It’s inspired by the whole idea of opening a champagne bottle and the bubbles bursting out,” stated a bubbly Davie.
As can be expected from Disney, the cruise liner was specially designed with families in mind, combining sleek style and convenient facilities with splashes of magic and cruise-industry firsts — like the splashtacular AquaDuck, the very first water coaster at sea located hhigh above the top deck of the Dream. Jets propel folks and their floats uphill, through the ship’s funnel and into a “lazy river” area. At one point, the ride’s acrylic tube extends 12 feet over the edge of the Dream.
Davie resides in Orlando Florida with his lovely wife Jeanine Davie and their two precious daughters. This brilliant Imagineer credits his wife with being the person who keeps his mojo in motion. “I can’t give enough credit to my wife,” he boasts.
“When I started this project I had to relocate my family to Germany for me to be close to my Imagineering family for planning purposes,” he admits. “As I travelled back and forth, Jeanine was there taking care of business – setting up the family in a different country, different culture, different language. She’s there right now as I speak manning matters and handling our girls,” he said lovingly.
Currently, Davie is back in Germany, reunited with his beautiful family, and working on Disney Cruise Line’s next magical ship – the Fantasy — that will debut Spring 2012. (Photos courtesy Walt Disney)
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.