Monday, November 14, 2011

Disney Cruise Line: Rotational Dining and Quick Dining Options

I recently had the pleasure of embarking on a magical Disney Cruise vacation with my family. It was my second Disney Cruise and still as fantastic as the very first time. Disney currently has 3 vessels in its arsenal: the Disney Magic, the Disney Wonder, and the Disney Dream. The Disney Fantasy will be a new addition next spring. Although we're very anxious to check out the newer ships, the Disney Magic holds a special place in our hearts. Through the next several posts, I will discuss some of the food that we experienced on our trip. If you are considering a Disney cruise in the future, this will be a great way to get a sneak peak of what's in store for you. If you get sea sick and/or have no desire to go galavanting around the beautiful ports of call (I can't imagine this being a valid reason not to go), then let this be a mini visual vacation for you. Please enjoy :)

Rotational Dining: Each of the Disney ships has 3 main dining rooms between which your party rotates based on a pre-set schedule. Each of those dining rooms has a standard dinner menu inspired by the theme of the restaurant. There are also several "special" menus that are sprinkled in between, and will be enjoyed when you are in any one of the given dining rooms simply based on your rotation. Today's post will briefly discuss and share some of the options from the 3 main dining room menus. I will discuss the "special" menus in a later post. On the Disney Magic, the 3 dining rooms are Lumiere's, Animator's Palate, and Parrot Cay.


My favorite of the 3 standard menus is that at Lumiere's. It features French cuisine, and the galley team does a knockout job at preparing the food here. Each dinner menu features 4 courses, and you can select an item from each category. A couple of the stand-out appetizers include the escargots (marinated in herbs and finely chopped mushrooms in garlic butter) and the duck confit (served with dried prunes and candied walnuts). I also really loved the French onion soup (you'd be shocked how many places actually can't get this right), and the tomato basil soup and avocado-citrus salad were favorites among my family. For entrees, the three-cheese lobster macaroni was my pick, but the lamb shank was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and would have been my second choice. "Sweet Temptations" are offered as a dessert option at every meal. In lieu of making a single selection from the menu, a small tasting of 3 pre-determined desserts can be chosen. On many occasions, this was the way to go, although from time to time I/we picked individual desserts.

Appetizers (Clockwise from Left): Chilled Jumbo Shrimp, "Gaston's" Escargots Gratinee, Duck Confit

"Mrs. Potts" French Onion Soup

Entrees (Clockwise from Left): Three-Cheese Lobster Macaroni, Slowly Braised Lamb Shank, Lumiere's Seared Sea Bass

Sweet Temptations: Chocolate Mousse, Creme Brulee, Praline Petite Choux

Animator's Palate is special in that it includes a show as part of the experience. On the older 2 ships (Magic and Wonder), the show involves screens that light up around the room as songs from those Disney films play in the dining room. On the newer ships, Animator's Palate has gotten a makeover that includes a tour around the dining room with the amazing turtles from Finding Nemo. The menu here is pretty upscale as well. My ahi tuna tartare was a great start to the meal, while my Asian marinated beef tenderloin was absolutely cooked to perfection. A final appearance by Sorcerer Mickey defines Animator's Palate as a truly whimsical experience filled with magic, both on your plates and in the air all around you.

Animator's Palate Show Dinner

Ahi Tuna Tartare

Asian Marinated Beef Tenderloin

Sweet Temptations: Strawberry Sable, Double-Fudge Chocolate Cake, Cranberry and Orange Cheesecake

Our least favorite in general is Parrot Cay. I honestly think this is a common opinion. The menu is more island-themed, and in general has less highlights for our palates. In our particular case, we experienced an off night during our meal here (meat not cooked to the temperature desired and/or not trimmed properly is an example). Our food overall was disappointing. Disney, being the people-pleasers that they are, fully made up for this fact throughout our cruise by regularly sending people (such as the chef de cuisine) to our table to check in on us, and even surprised us with some chocolate-covered strawberries and a written apology in our stateroom. We felt very much taken care of, and knew that Disney valued our opinion and didn't want us to be unhappy with our meals in the future. Gotta love that customer service.

Parrot Cay

Baked Crab Dip Martinique

Mixed Grill

Quick Dining Options: The ships also have several quick dining options that can stand in for meals or snacks as desired. These options include Pinocchio's Pizzeria, Pluto's Dog House (where I simply could not resist indulging in SEVERAL tacos over the span of the week), and Goofy's Galley. Also, the Topsider's Buffet is a breakfast, lunch, and dinner option in lieu of a more formal setting elsewhere. All of these treats are free of charge, completely included in the price of your cruise ticket.

Taco and Fries from Pluto's Dog House


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