Grammy Winner Jennifer Hudson Christens Disney Dream
For its first new ship in a decade and its largest ever, Disney pulled out all the stops. The christening included fireworks, production numbers and a helicopter picking up a 16-foot blue "champagne bottle" and bringing it towards the ship while a real bottle of bubbly was also smashed across the 130,000-ton ship's bow.
Walt Disney Company President and CEO Bob Iger said of the giant bottle, "Anyone can break a bottle of champagne over a ship. I'm going to fill our bottle with dreams."
Some 2,000 invited guests were treated to a half-hour show that featured dozens of beloved characters from Mickey to Jack Sparrow and beyond – name an animated Disney movie and the character was likely on stage – and an original musical number for the Dream, all about dreams.
The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella conjured Hudson, who rose to the stage on a lift, and greeted the crowd looking svelte and elegant in a belted tan dress.
For Hudson, the event was a homecoming of sorts. She worked on the Disney Wonder as an entertainer in 2003 before rising to fame on "American Idol" and winning an Academy Award for "Dreamgirls," as well as a Grammy for her debut album.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Thomas Staggs introduced her as "Disney's ultimate dream girl."
"I began my career as a singer on the Disney Wonder, so you can only imagine how excited I am to be here today," Hudson said, clearly tickled by her ship godmother role.
The singer delighted the crowd by singing "Who Knows Where A Dream Might Lead," a song created for the "Golden Mickeys," a signature show of the cruise line.
The faux bottle of champagne hoisted by the helicopter was a dramatic effect, but fireworks from the ship, as Hudson blessed the vessel, really got the crowd clapping.
The Dream is the first ship to feature an onboard water coaster, AquaDuck, and also brings to cruising new high tech features including Magical Portholes with virtual views and artwork that springs to life with animation. Guests also have an opportunity to interact with animated characters who talk back, including Crush from "Finding Nemo."
The ship does its maiden voyage Jan. 26, and then sails to the Caribbean on 3-, 4- and 5-day itineraries that include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.
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Photo of Jennifer Hudson, Bob Iger (center) and Thomas Staggs (right), Gene Duncan, Disney / AP