Disney Cruise Dining: You’ll never get hungry!
The variety of Disney Cruise dining options is staggering, including everything from coffee shops and pizza stands to Vegas-size buffets to ritzy French and Italian restaurants.
Each ship has at least one large buffet, usually open for breakfast and lunch. Buffets tend to serve a bit of everything at each meal and are the easiest way to satisfy disparate appetites. The buffets at Cabanas on the Magic, Dream, and Fantasy are as large and diverse as those at many Las Vegas hotels. Besides offering variety, buffets let picky kids see exactly what food they’re getting. They also offer plenty of seating with ocean views, indoors and out.
The buffet is also the first thing many folks discover when exploring the Disney Cruise ships on embarkation day. Piles of crab legs and peel-and-eat shrimps, as well as mouthwatering lamb shops are only outdone by an amazing selection of deserts.
Each Disney ship has four or five full-service restaurants
Three of the full-service restaurants are part of the standard rotational-dinner schedule available to every guest on the ship. One of the innovations that Disney Cruise Line (DCL) brought to the cruise industry is the concept of rotational dining, in which you visit one of three standard restaurants on a different night of your cruise. As you change from restaurant to restaurant, your server team—your waiter, beverage person, head waiter, and maître d’—all move with you. Your team will quickly learn your dining proclivities, including preferred drinks and favorite desserts, and make menu suggestions. Along with your stateroom attendant, you’ll almost certainly rely on your dining team more than any other member of the crew during your trip. The rotational restaurants have two dinner seatings, typically 5:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Because Disney sets the schedule, there’s no need to make reservations each night. You can request either the earlier or later seating when booking your trip or once aboard the ship. You can also request changes to your rotation, specifying which restaurants you visit each night.
You’ll repeat at least one of the three standard restaurants on cruises of four nights and longer. Rather than visit the same restaurant twice on a four-night cruise, we recommend using one of those nights to visit Palo (on any ship) or Remy (on the Dream and Fantasy).
Palo and Remy – Disney Cruise dining at its best!
The upscale Italian restaurant Palo, found on each ship and for which Disney charges an additional fee of $30, serves dinner to cruisers 18 and older. The Dream and Fantasy have a fifth restaurant, Remy, which serves high-end French cuisine and levies a $85 surcharge. Both Palo and Remy serve brunch on selected sea days (still adults-only).
Another, less formal (and less expensive) option to rotational dining is the dinner buffet on each ship. Finally, at least one of the rotational restaurants is open for breakfast and lunch each day. In addition to the sit-down restaurants each ship also offers counter-service restaurants which serve fast food staples such as burgers and hot dogs, and cafes and lounges.
Animator’s Palate – a tribute to Disney’s and Pixar’s animation
While there are different restaurants on Disney Cruise Lines ships each Disney Cruise Line ship has a restaurant called Animator’s Palate. The restaurant pays tribute to Disney’s (and Pixar’s) animation processes. And although all Disney ships have a restaurant called Animator’s Palate, there are three different implementations. Unlike the black-and-white decor on the Magic and Wonder, that of Animator’s Palate on the Fantasy (and the Dream) features vivid colors: The floor has red carpet with stars of silver, gold, and blue, and the walls are the color of caramel. The backs of the dining-room chairs are patterned after Mickey Mouse’s pants, with red backs, yellow buttons, and a black “belt” at the top.
Shelves along the walls hold small toy versions of Disney and Pixar icons, in between video screens displaying animation sketches from popular Disney movies. The more interesting ones will show on one screen how one complete animated cel is drawn, starting from sketches of the main characters to how key background elements are drawn, color samples for walls and floors, and the finished art. The art changes throughout the evening, keeping the view fresh for everyone.
At certain points during your dinner, some of the screens will switch from sketches to an interactive video featuring the surfer-dude turtle Crush from Finding Nemo. When we say “interactive,” we mean it—Crush will ask you questions and react to your responses, allowing you to have an actual conversation with the animated turtle. Based on the same real-time computer graphics found in Epcot’s Turtle Talk with Crush attraction (also found at other Disney parks), the technology behind this minishow allows Crush’s mouth to move in the appropriate way as his words are spoken. Parents may be more amazed than children.
The “wow” factor doesn’t extend to the food—as is the case at the other Animator’s Palates, the cuisine isn’t much different from what you might get at Applebee’s or Chili’s, despite the Pacific Rim/American designation.
Find a complete description of all restaurants onboard all Disney Cruise Line ships in The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line by Len Testa, Erin Foster, Laurel Stewart, and Ritchey Halphen.