Disney does things a little differently on their cruise ships. So how does dining work on a Disney Cruise?
It’s a pretty great system once you understand the way dining works on a Disney Cruise.
Disney Cruise Rotational Dining
Rotational dining is a concept which is unique to Disney Cruise Lines. What is it?
Every Disney Cruise ship has three main dining restaurants. These are the restaurants where you will dine each evening on your Disney ship.
You will have the chance to dine in each of these Disney Cruise restaurants during your sailing. You will “rotate” around the restaurants in a pre-set order so that you can experience each of the main dining restaurants.
If you are sailing for more than 3 nights on your Disney Cruise, you will experience the main dining restaurants more than once.
For instance, on a 7 night Disney cruise you will visit two of the restaurants at least twice, and one of the restaurants three times.
This is great because you get a chance to dine in each of the Disney cruise restaurants.
They are all unique and offer something different from each other, so it is wonderful that you know that you are going to experience each of them at least once.
What are the Disney Cruise Restaurants?
Each of the Disney Cruise ships has different restaurants.
The only restaurant that all of the Disney ships have onboard is Animator’s Palate. This is an amazing restaurant that is themed around Disney animation.
The other Disney Wonder Restaurants are Triton’s and Tiana’s Place.
You will also find Enchanted Garden on Disney Fantasy and the Royal Court restaurant.
Each has something very different to offer. They all have their own menus which are unique to each Disney cruise ship restaurant.
How Does Disney Cruise Rotational Dining Work?
So now we know that there are 3 restaurants on each Disney ship and that you will rotate around them.
The other great thing about the rotational dining system is that you will take your servers with you. This is such a great idea.
It means that your servers get to know you and your family, so that they can be of the best service to you for each dinner.
Disney Cruise Servers are amazing and will go above and beyond to make your dining experience very special.
They will already know your name by the time you even sit down for your first meal! They take the time to get to know your dining preferences so that they can best advise you on which choices you will like from the menu.
They will also get to know which drinks that you like at dinner, so you will find your non alcoholic beverages waiting for you on the second day as you arrive at your table.
If you have any special dietary requirements you can have noted these on your Cruise Personalizer before you embark on your Disney Cruise. This means that your servers will already know about them before you arrive.
However, if for any reason they did not get communicated to them beforehand, always tell your servers about dietary requirements and preferences.
Disney Cruise Dining Times
There are two Disney Cruise Dining Times – Early and Late Seating.
Disney cruise early dining is at 5.45 pm every day. This is by far the most popular dining time choice on all of the Disney ships.
If you have early dining you will see the show at 8.30.
I know that many people like this early Disney dining time as they have young children. For many years I was in this category and so always wanted early dining.
However, if you don’t have young children I would suggest you think about opting for late dining. As early dining is so popular you will definitely get your choice if you opt for late dining.
Disney cruise late dining is at 8.15 pm.
I think there are advantages to late dining. The service tends to be quicker than for first seating. I also like this as your servers usually have more time to talk at the end of the meal.
If you have late dining and are sailing with children you can take advantage of the service that the kids club provides. At around 9.15 pm each evening the Kids Counselors will stand at the back of each restaurant and you can check your kids into the Oceaneer’s Lab or Club.
Your Servers will have prioritized getting the food out for your kids, so they will have finished by 9.15.
This means that you can enjoy your desserts in peace and the adults can spend some time together at dinner without the children.
If you have late dining you can see the first show in the Walt Disney Theatre which will be at 6.15.
How Do I Know What My Dining Time Is?
You can see this online when you have booked your Disney Cruise.
Also when you check in for you Disney Cruise prior to boarding, you will be given your Key to The World Card. This will clearly show what your Disney Cruise dining time is.
It will also show the order of your Disney Cruise rotational dining restaurants. Each has a letter code. So for instance, Animator’s Palace will be AP. Tiana’s Place will be TP.
What If You Want to Change Your Disney Cruise Dining Time?
When you book your Disney Cruise you will be allocated a dining time. If you are booking online yourself, the default is to late dining. So if you want early dining you always need to remember to change that default choice. If you are using a travel agent. ask them to do this for you.
Early dining is always the most popular choice, so it may very well be that by the time you book your Disney cruise, the early seating will already be full.
If this happens you can ask to be on the wait list.
Disney Cruise Lines always does their best to accommodate a guests preferences for dining time. However, tables are limited in each restaurant and they can only do so much.
If by the time you board your Disney cruise you still do not have the seating time that you want, you can still try and change it.
If you want to change from early dining to late they will probably welcome you with open arms and thank you profusely! However, it is more difficult, but not impossible, to change from late to early dining.
I did hear on my last cruise that the waiting list had 200 families on it – obviously at that point there isn’t much the Disney Cruise dining team can do to help you!
What if you don’t get your preferred dining time on your Disney Cruise? Just go with it. The dining experience on a Disney Cruise is amazing.
I completely understand that your toddler can’t last until 8.15 without food, but they don’t need to. You can always go to one of the many other places which have food available and get them something to eat! There is always a solution!
What About Palo and Remy?
In addition to the rotational dining restaurants on a Disney Cruise, all of the ships have Palo. The Disney Dream and the Fantasy have Remy.
Palo and Remy are restaurants which are exclusively for adults aged 18 and over.
They are not included in the price of your Disney Cruise. Disney Palo has an additional charge of $40 per person for both Brunch and Dinner.
Remy offers a number of different dining options with different additional charges. Remy is only available on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream.
Adults can book a reservation for brunch or dinner at Palo and Remy for an additional charge. This is separate from the Disney Rotational Dining system.
Is Dining Included on a Disney Cruise?
You can dine on a Disney Cruise without paying any extra at all. There are additional charges for Palo and Remy, but you really can very easily dine on a Disney Cruise without paying anything extra at all.
If you want to see more about all of the options for dining on your sailing you can go to Disney Cruise Food and this explains all the different options available to you.
One thing is for sure. You will never go hungry on a Disney Cruise! There are so many food options on a Disney Cruise you are sure to find many different things that you love.
The only problem might be dealing with the extra pounds that you put on during your cruise!
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.