Dining is one of the most important parts of any Disney cruise. I recently returned from a Disney hosted trip aboard the Disney Magic, and the meals added more magic than I expected. The service was flawless, the food delicious, and the atmosphere was filled with special touches that you’ll only find with Disney. Here are the main dining options. There are also several quick service restaurants, lounges, and bars. Room service is also included in the cost of your trip.
I’ll start with the main buffet. Cabanas is open for all three meals, you can find the hours in the Navigator that you will receive daily. There are several different food stations, and you won’t leave hungry. My favorite thing about Cabanas was the view. Each time that we ate there we took our food out on the deck. I can’t tell you about dinner at Cabanas, because we enjoyed the main dining rooms too much. Breakfast and lunch were both quite good, with a nice variety for pretty much any taste.
2. Main Dining Rooms
There are three main dining rooms for dinner on the Disney Magic. You will be assigned one room each night, the restaurant and table assignment are found on your Key to the World Card. One thing that is unique about Disney Cruise Line is what they call rotational dining. Even though you will change restaurants, your serving staff will change with you. You’ll keep the same servers no matter which dining room you are in. This is a brilliant idea. Our servers quickly learned our likes and dislikes, and would make recommendations for us. By the final night we let our main server just place the order for what he recommended, because he had never steered us wrong. The best part of all about rotational dining, though, was that we really got to know the staff. They became our friends, and if we ever travel on the Disney Magic again we plan to ask for the same servers. Here are the three main dining rooms:
- Rapunzel’s Royal Table: This is part restaurant and part show. You’ll celebrate Rapunzel’s birthday in the kingdom of Corona while you dine. Rapunzel is there, and Flynn Rider makes an appearance as well. The Snuggly Duckling Thugs are also on hand. Make sure that you listen to them when they want you to play along, because they will call you out. It’s all in good fun. The show was as good as the food. Since it was the first night of the cruise, the energy was high all around.
- Lumiere’s: Our second night we ate at Lumiere’s. This restaurant is of course based on Beauty and the Beast. There is a mural on one wall to give you the illusion that you are in the grand ballroom from the animated classic. The lighting fixtures overhead each contained a single rose, which was a really nice effect. The food had a French flair. While Rapunzel’s Royal Table was a lot of fun, Lumiere’s was a more laid back dining experience. It was easy to hold a conversation during the meal. Lumiere’s is also open for breakfast and lunch if you’d rather skip Cabanas. Only dinner is part of rotational dining.
- Animator’s Palate: Easily my favorite of the three main restaurants was Animator’s Palate. When you enter there are black and white drawings of favorite Disney characters on the walls. These sketches would change from time to time, and another character would take its place. Around the time that everyone was finishing up dessert the scenes changed. First the black and white started to turn to color. Then, the drawings came to life, so to speak, and the pictures turned into animated scenes. It was quite dramatic, and included music and lighting effects. To add to the fun, Sorcerer Mickey came out and spread magic throughout the room. Since the traditional meal at Animator’s Palate was the last night of our cruise, the staff all joined in as well. The whole room applauded. It was a touching way to be able to thank those who had taken such good care of us.
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3. Specialty Nights
There were two specialty nights on our cruise. We got to experience Pirates In the Caribbean and Marvel Day at Sea. These two nights had special menus, which were the same at all three restaurants. We celebrated Pirate Night in Lumiere’s (this was my favorite meal of the trip) and Marvel Day at Sea in Animator’s Palate. There were no special shows or extras for the specialty nights. They were still some of the highlights of our cruise.
4. The Final Morning
If you want to see your rotational dining servers one more time (which we did), there is an opportunity the final morning. You can have breakfast at your normal table in the last restaurant that you ate at. Disney realizes that their dining staff is exceptional, and they know that guests will want to see them one more time. For us, this was the perfect way to end a near perfect vacation.
There is one other main restaurant that you might want to try. Palo is only for those 18 and older. If costs extra, but it is also gourmet dining at its finest. You can make a Palo reservation for brunch or dinner. We chose brunch. The meal included an appetizer and an entree, plus there is a buffet. (There is no buffet at dinner.) We were also offered a complimentary mimosa or sparkling cider. The food is mostly Italian. Palo means “pole” in Italian, and the restaurant has poles throughout that are nods to the poles that the gondoliers use in Venice. The views can’t be beat, and the service was impeccable. There are also private dining rooms that can be reserved for up to 14 people. Reservations are required for Palo, and there is a dress code. Since it is an adult’s only experience, many parents will leave their children at one of the incredible Youth Clubs and then enjoy a quiet meal for two.
6. Castaway Cay
If you’re on a cruise that includes a stop on Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, you won’t go hungry there either. On Castaway Cay there are two main dining options. They serve pretty much the same thing, mostly barbecue, hamburgers, and hot dogs. Veggie burgers are available as well, and there are some salad options. If you follow a special diet, talk to your server at dinner the night before. He will put in a special order for you. You can also return to the ship for lunch if you are not in the mood for barbecue. It’s an easy walk or shuttle ride back. If some of the Cast Members at Castaway Cay look familiar, that’s because you know them already. Some of the dining staff from the Disney Magic was on hand to help out. We ran into our waiter from Palo, who still remembered our names, three days later. It’s things like that that make the service on a Disney cruise stand out.