On all Disney Cruises, the Disney Cruise dining works basically the same, though the restaurants are different. On each of the four Disney Cruise Ships, you can find the following:
Buffet Restaurant – Located up by the main kids pool, near the back of the ship, there is a large buffet restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the Disney Fantasy, Dream and Magic, it is called Cabanas. On the Disney Wonder it is called Beach Blanket Buffet, but look for that to be changed to match the others ships when the Wonder goes into dry dock this Fall. While it is a buffet for breakfast and lunch, dinner is a cook to order, sit down restaurant. This restaurant is open to anyone on the ship, no reservations required, and you can eat here all day long if you wish.
Three main restaurants – These three restaurants will be your home for dinner. I am sure you have heard of “rotational dining”, which means that Disney rotates you through these three restaurants every three nights. You will be assigned a restaurant each night, and you will have the exact same waiter every night of your cruise in these three restaurants. While you do have the option of eating at Cabanas/Beach Blanket at night, I strongly suggest going to your nightly restaurant, dinner is always a highlight of every Disney Cruise I have ever been on.
- Animator’s Palate – Disney Dream, Fantasy, Magic and Wonder – This is a fun restaurant that features the art of Disney animation. Watch the restaurant come to life during your meal.
- Carioca’s – Disney Magic – Savor a festival of American and South American flavors at this jubilant restaurant inspired by Disney’s The Three Caballeros.
- Enchanted Garden – Disney Dream and Fantasy – This spectacular restaurant was inspired by the gardens of Versailles. As you dine, it changes from day to evening, complete with a constellation of twinkling stars.
- Lumiere’s – Disney Magic – Located in the lobby, Lumiere’s is the showcase restaurant of the Disney Magic, and features scenes from Beauty and the Beast, as well as a wilting rose in the chandelier.
- Parrot Cay – Disney Wonder – This Caribbean inspired restaurant is inspired by the easy-going feel of the Tropics.
- Royal Court (Disney Fantasy) and Royal Palace (Disney Dream) – These restaurants are the showcase of the Dream and Fantasy, located in the lobby of the ship. Both are elegant restaurants where you can dine like royalty.
- Triton’s – Disney Wonder – The showcase restaurant on the Wonder, Triton’s is of course named after the Little Mermaid’s father, and is an upscale restaurant offering fine dining “under the sea.”
These restaurants are typically also open for breakfast and lunch, though no reservation or set time is required, just show up and you will be seated. Usually, the main restaurant on the ship (Lumiere’s, Triton’s, Royal Palace and Royal Court) will feature a daily menu for both breakfast and lunch, while the other restaurants will feature a buffet type offering.
When you get your room key, the dining rotation will be listed on there showing just the first letters of each restaurant in order, so a four night cruise, it will show four letters such as RAER, for Royal Palace, Animator’s Palete, Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace. Along with the schedule will be your dining time. Your dining times are reserved when you book your cruise, no need for reservations. When your cruise is booked, you can choose from Main or Second dining, which will determine when you eat each night:
- Main Dining – You will be seated sometime around 5:45 PM each night. Disney usually splits up the times as they don’t want all three restaurants seating at the exact same time, so you will be given either 5:30, 5:45 or 6:00 PM, and that will be your time each night. With main dining, that also means that you will see the nightly show after dinner, around 8:30 PM each night.
- Second Dining – This is the later seating, and you will be seated at either 8:00, 8:15 or 8:30 PM. You will see the nightly show before dinner, around 6:30 PM.
The nightly show usually lasts about an hour. I MUCH prefer the second dining. Since many people onboard start eating at 5:30, that means they have to round up their kids to get their entire family dressed and ready for dinner, so about 4:30, everything completely clears up. If you have late dinner, the show isn’t until 6:30, and you can show up to the show in whatever you want that is decent. That gives you a bunch of extra time to enjoy the ship while others are worried about trying to get to dinner. If you are worried that that is too late, there is food available everywhere on the ship, for free. We often grab a snack up by the pool when others head to the rooms to get ready. Some chicken strips or pizza will hold anyone over until dinner time.
Signature Restaurants – Each Disney Cruise has at least one “signature” restaurant. These restaurants are not on the dining rotation, require reservations as well as an additional fee, which typically goes towards a tip for the waiters. Also, these restaurants are adults only, so they provide a great date night option.
- Palo – Disney Dream, Fantasy, Magic and Wonder – Savor classic Northern Italian cooking with a modern twist at this chic adult-exclusive restaurant—it’s a feast for the senses! Hint – Do NOT MISS the chocolate soufflé with vanilla bean and chocolate sauce. Holy cow. Palo is currently $30 per person for dinner.
- Remy – Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy – A new “super signature” restaurant, offering the most luxurious dining onboard. Remy is an adult-exclusive restaurant serving the finest French fare for dinner. Remy is currently $85 per person for dinner.
If for some reason you find these restaurants full online before your cruise, do not fret, Disney does hold some times back for those who would like to book onboard. However, get to the booking location ASAP, before you do anything else onboard.
Counter Service Restaurants – Located around the pool areas of the four ships, Disney offers several fast food type restaurants that offer pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs and other similar types of food. Recently, they have been adding locations that also offer salad, wraps and some more healthy options. All of these locations are completely free, regardless of how much you order.
Room Service – Each Disney Cruise ship offers a limited room service menu. Up until recently, room service was completely free, though you are expected to tip your waiter. Recently, Disney redid the room service menu and some items now have a charge required to order them, but not all. Room service is usually very quick, and the food is usually decent.
Drink Station – Located near the pool, each Disney Cruise ship features a soft drink station available at no additional cost.
Please be aware, not all food on a Disney Cruise is free, though most is. You should be aware that there are snacks for sale during the nightly shows that ARE NOT free, the cost is charged to your stateroom. Many people assume this is included, which it is not. Other than that, just about all food is included in your cruise fare, including ice cream. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.