Disney Cruise Line: Serving Up Magical Dining

by Shoshana Lewin Fischer
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People joke that all you do on a cruise is eat. It's not true — it only feels that way. That's because the Food and Beverage team onboard each Disney Cruise Line ship makes sure that no matter what you order (or where you order it), from Cornish Game Hen to Mickey Mouse Waffles, it's a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious experience.

Edward D'Costa, the Food and Beverage manager onboard the Disney Wonder, makes sure things run smoothly in the many galleys — he oversees 120 cooks — as well as with the many food demonstrations and displays around the ship. He's worked for Disney Cruise Line for 10 years and said he enjoys the creativity that comes from being able to program meals for longer cruises.

His onboard "bible" is the Culinary Master Plan on his computer, complete with what is served when and what it should look like on the plate (he's also a food photographer).

"We can make things simpler, when we get feedback that it might be too fancy," he said. "The recipes are all sorted out so the chefs know what to make and the waiters know what it is in each dish."

The Master Plan is enormous — it has to be, given the many onboard options. There's fine dining just for adults at Palo on all four ships, and at Remy on the Dream and Fantasy. Looking for a casual lunch? Head to Topsiders Buffet on the Magic, Beach Blanket Buffet on the Wonder or Cabanas on the Dream and Fantasy. Healthy snacks, pizza, burgers, ice cream, high tea, BBQ lunches, dessert buffets, champagne brunches, late-night snacks, character breakfasts and a 24-hour complimentary beverage station keep foodies on their toes.

One of the innovations of the Disney Cruise Line is rotational dining. Every night your family will eat in one of three themed restaurants — and your wait staff comes, too.

On the original ships, there are the "traditional" dining rooms of Lumiere's (Magic) and Triton's (Wonder), themed to Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, respectively. On the Dream and Fantasy, the Royal Palace is inspired by many of the Disney princesses (complete with a chandelier that sports tiny glass slippers a la Cinderella). Of course, even "traditional" dining with Disney has its own magical surprises.

Next up, if you are on the Wonder or Magic, you'll head to the Caribbean-themed Parrot Cay, which for Disney Parks fans has a definite Enchanted Tiki Room vibe to it (although the birds don't sing words and the flowers don't croon, but the waiters do dance). Over on the Dream and Fantasy, step into Enchanted Garden. Imagine eating in the garden of Versailles surrounded by fountains under a beautiful blue sky. The restaurant's sweeping ceiling changes from a blue in the daytime to the golden red of a sunset, finally becoming a display of twinkling stars when you come in for dinner (thanks to some really cool technology in the ceiling). Both restaurants are where you'll come for your first lunch onboard, as well as for the character breakfasts (included in the price of your cruise).

And everyone, regardless of ship, eats at the guest favorite: Animator's Palate. On the classic ships, the room changes from black and white to color throughout the meal and celebrates some of the greatest characters in Disney animation. On the Dream and Fantasy, character sketches, paint brushes, colored pencils, computer stations and other tools of the trade decorate the restaurant. Plus, the chairs feature a familiar red, black and yellow color scheme with a trademark design: Mickey Mouse pants with two bright yellow buttons. And you never know who is going to stop by during dinner.

Next Course: Grown Up Fare, Food Allergies and Tropical Tastes

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