After taking a look at breakfast, lunch, and brunch, we move on to dinner on the Disney Magic. I think next time we will take a look around the ship.
There are two seatings for dinner – 5:45pm or 8:15pm. You select your time when you make your reservation with the earlier time tending to be more popular with families. Each of the Disney cruise ships has three themed dining rooms and you’ll have an opportunity to experience each at least one time on what’s called a rotation. You and your dining companions will move along with your servers each night. On cruises longer than three nights, you’ll double up on at least one restaurant with the likelihood that the second night will be a themed menu of some variety rather than a re-tread of what you’ve already experienced.
Carioca’s was our first stop and ordinarily offers a menu with some South American flair:
Cruise dining is sort of like a souped up Disney Dining Plan, where you can order whatever you want and there are no prices to concern yourself with. You can order six appetizers or two entrees or three desserts or a side of this and an entree of that or whatever other combination you see fit. Everything you see is included.
The restaurant is themed to a Brazilian festival with some interesting lighting elements, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Each restaurant offers a couple of cocktails that will cost you an extra $6 or so.
Above is the Caipirosa, which I don’t remember as being particularly memorable, but the fruitiness of the drink does complement some of the spicier food nicely.
Empanadas Panzudas de Carne – Argentinean Beef Empanadas with Red Chimichurri.
Sopa de Frijoles Negros Habanera – Havana-style Black Bean Soup with Olive Oil.
Deep Fried Lobster Croquetas – With a Banana-Lentil Salad and Creamed Horseradish.
Tiger Shrimp Ceviche and Palmitos Salad – With Cucumber, Cilantro, and a Tomato Citrus Dressing.
There’s a lot of plural words here for dishes that only come with one of said thing. It does offer more of an opportunity to try different things and helps reduce unnecessary waste. I would hate to see how much food they throw away.
Grilled Orange and Lemon-marinated Flank Steak – With an Onion, Lime Salsa and Black Bean Rice.
The restaurant dealt with substitutions better than other cruise lines I’ve experienced. On our cruise, our table consisted of four pairs of people, and one person in particular was what the Internet likes to call a “picky eater.” The kitchen didn’t have much of a problem cooking his steak well done along with a scoop of plain white rice in place of a potato or other side.
Slow-roasted Pork Belly – With Crushed Sweet Potato, Creamy Grits, and Collard Greens.
Grilled Grain-fed Sirloin Steak, I think.
Lobster, Shrimp, and Mahi Mahi Skewers – On Peruvian Quinoa Salad served with Dried Mango, Pineapple, and Toasted Coconut Salsa.
Jose Carioca’s – Skewered and Grilled Brazilian Sausage, Adobo Chili, Crusted Lamb, and Tenderloin with Mexican Tomato Rice, Jumbo Shrimp, Chimichurri, and a Lime-Garlic Orange Mojo.
I think the only miss here was the lobster croquette(s), which was more like a hashbrown-y fish stick than anything and lacked much lobster flavor. I liked my black bean soup and it had a nice spicy element to it. The featured Jose Carioca’s is sort of like a miniature ‘Ohana experience and while the steak was a little dry, it was a nice variety of flavors on top of Mexican rice.
Lumiere’s is sort of Beauty-and-the-Beast-inspired as you “make your way into a spacious ballroom, where grand glowing rose flowers hang in wondrous glass domes and golden Art Deco columns mingle with an elegant mural starring characters from the hit Disney film.”
The dinner menu features a bit of French flair. That usually means a lot of duck, cheese, wine, and butter, and the menu looks to rely heavily on all four. Unfortunately, this ended up being the meal we skipped in favor of Palo. While Palo is exquisite, the downside to dining there or Remy on the Dream/Fantasy, particularly on a short trip, is that you have to skip one of the meals. Fortunately, we were able to schedule Palo on the first of two meals at Lumiere’s, so we still had an opportunity to experience the ambiance of the restaurant, albeit in more of a pirate setting.
Lumiere’s was also home to lunch:
Like I said in the previous post, you generally have a very small window to get here if you do want table service lunch. At least in my experience, they aren’t accommodating if you do show up a couple of minutes late.
Lumiere’s entrance with the bronze Mickey.
So instead we move to the Pirates of the Caribbean meal:
Not my finest camera work, but I was not using a flash at the time and our table was in the far corner:
Johnny Cake is basically corn bread in this instance, but the relish is in fact some kind of legume-based topping. I don’t think anybody at the table got within three feet of it, but rolls and butter are also served. It seems like cornbread and honey butter a la Trail’s End would be a significantly bigger hit.
The Buccaneer’s Sun-Ripened Pineapple – Fresh island pineapple with a coconut-covered banana and orange glaze.
Pearls of the Caribbean – crabmeat, shrimp and salmon mixed in pearls of couscous with lemon grass infused vinaigrette.
Black Beard’s Jumbo Crab Cake – with golden raisin-carrot and coconut slaw served with a spicy Calypso dressing.
Pirates Golden “Pot Stickers” – oriental pork “dumplings” deep fried and served with a tamarind-ginger soy sauce and pickled vegetables.
Jerk Chicken Salad – jerk-seasoned chicken strips over fresh crispy greens with a citrus dressing and plantain chips
Castaway Chicken Breast – rubbed with Pirate Island Spice, rice and beans, and fried okra on rich spiced glaze.
Jack Sparrow’s Barbecue Marinated Beef Short Ribs – Rubbed beef short rips with tamarind-barbecue sauce and served with onion red bliss mashed potatoes and plantain chip.
Treasures of the Seas Grilled Shrimp and Seared Scallops – served on strings of pasta and fresh creamy tomato sauce.
The Dutchmen’s Dijon-Crusted Sirloin of Beef – thick cut of beef with oven-roasted sweet potatoes and a black spot tomato with deep red wine glaze.
Floating Island – crisp meringue, vanilla anglaise and marinated fruits.
Banana-Chocolate Crepe – with mango coulis and coconut.
Rum Soaked Chocolate Cake – with raspberry glaze and whipped cream.
Sweet Temptations – a trio of fruit cobbler, floating island and chocolate cake.
Food-wise, I think the Pirates meal was the weakest of any on the Magic or the Dream and if I could do it again, would be the meal I’d skip in favor of Palo or Remy. The “entertainment” during the meal is probably a non-factor as well.
Animator’s Palate is my favorite restaurant here and on the Dream. On the Magic:
Animator’s Palate serves up something more than just fine food: innovative dinner shows celebrating the art of Disney storytelling and animation, where many beloved Disney characters come to life right before your eyes. Dinner shows include:
Drawn to Magic: Watch the evolution of animation—from pencil test to ink-and-paint to storytelling. Follow a hero’s journey through Disney and Pixar animation, from wishing upon a star to happily-ever-after. In an emotional finale, the black-and-white interior of the restaurant is transformed with splashes of vibrant colors. Join Sorcerer Mickey as he leads the fun!
Sorcerer Mickey’s appearance is a nice touch.
Menu-wise, the meal is not particularly focused.
According to Disney, the restaurant serves “contemporary Pacific Rim cuisine made up of Pacific Island foods, Asian cooking, fresh California fare and a host of other cultural and culinary influences.” So sort of whatever. This was also the first meal that we were presented a wine menu:
Lisa sprung for a bottle of the Cakebread Napa Chardonnay.
While I opted for the Blueberrylicious (lol). Fruity, but probably a waste of time as far as alcohol content goes.
Smoked Salmon Tartar – will dill, capers, onions, pickles and a horseradish cream.
Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes – pasta purses filled with truffle-scented cheese and coated with a champagne sauce.
Tomato Tarte – with glazed goat cheese and radish salad.
Sliced Serrano Ham with tomato bread and Spanish olives.
The bread served at dinner, Garlic and Herb foccacia with a rosemary virgin olive oil here, tends to be just okay. Which is fine I think. It’s sitting on the table upon your arrival and works to soak up a little bit of pool bar before it’s time to dive into the menu.
Black Bean Chipotle Cakes – over corn kernels and brown rice topped with tomato-cilantro sauce.
Ginger Teriyaki dusted Angus Beef Tenderloin on Wasabi mashed potatoes with bok choy and a tamarind-barbecue reduction.
Seared Red Snapper – with scallops, crushed new potatoes and salsa verde.
Jumbo Shrimp Salad – poached tiger shrimp tossed in a lemon olive oil, served on a diced cucumber, egg, and red onion and garnished with Roquette leaves
Lemon-Thyme Marinated All-Natural Chicken Breast with sour cream mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables and grain mustard jus.
Herb-Crusted Veal Chop – brushed with Dijon mustard and crusted with herbed bread crumbs served with sun-dried tomato risotto and a Barolo wine sauce.
I’d characterize everything here as “pretty good” and on par with a restaurant like The Wave or Grand Floridian Cafe. When you make a few hundred of something every day for years, you’ve probably gotten good at consistently executing each dish.
Cookies and Cream Sundae – vanilla ice cream, chocolate wafer cookies, and whipped cream.
White chocolate fudge cheesecake with whipped cream and raspberry coulis.
Duo chocolate cake with – layers of brownie and truffle mousse with caramel sauce.
Make your own pie – Lemon-raspberry curd with with crispy vanilla infused meringue, mango sauce, and cocoa jelly.
They might not tell you, but you can order a Mickey ice cream bar dipped in sprinkles for dessert at your leisure.
The animation show is a neat touch and because of it, this is probably the meal I would want to skip least in favor of something else. We all enjoyed the food better than the previous restaurants as well.
Palo brunch was discussed in the last post, but the restaurant also serves an upcharge dinner for prospective diners 18 years and older, for a cost of $30 per person. When you can book is based on how many times you’ve cruised with Disney:
Reservations are required and can be made online or onboard the ship. When dining at Palo, Guests will skip the regularly scheduled Main Dining restaurant.
Online reservations are available at the following times:
- Concierge Guests: 120 days in advance
- Castaway Club Levels:
- Platinum Castaways: 120 days in advance
- Gold Castaways: 105 days in advance
- Silver Castaways: 90 days in advance
- First Time Cruiser: 75 days in advance
Conventional advice is to book in advance if possible and if not, head up to the restaurant once you board the ship and check availability then, which is what we did. We didn’t have any trouble securing a reservation for 8:30pm on our second night.
The restaurant also offers a six-course meal each paired with wine for an additional $59 on top of the $30 fee. Some of the items are on the regular menu, while others are exclusive.
Instructions for those ordering a la carte are less clear than your typical restaurant menu. Our server Andre, who was fantastic here and the following morning for brunch, explained that most people choose an item from the antipasti, pasta, and either il pesce or la carne sections for a total of three courses before dessert. But you can order as much or as little as you want.
Your meal begins with the antipasto cart with things like prosciutto, bresaola, parmesan reggiano, marinated olives, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and other vegetables, not unlike we saw at the brunch buffet the next morning.
Andre prepared a plate much-too-large to share and drizzled aged balsamic over the top. All high quality and flavorful. And again, we’re not talking Disney World high quality here, but actually high quality. There is a big difference.
Breadsticks and flatbreads are also presented tableside, though it would be silly to fill up on most of this with so much food on deck.
I opted for the $59 Esperienza del Vino with six paired wines, which was a recent addition back in January 2k14. My meal began with tuna carpaccio and lemon oil dressing paired with Ferrari Brut NV, which is a decent Italian sparkling wine that paired well with the tuna and helped bring out the flavors from the lemon and the saltiness of the capers. A nice start.
Lisa tried the Fritto di Calamari, which is served here along with deep-fried cherry peppers.
Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Polenata.
Mozzarella and Plum Tomatoes.
Lobster and Mascarpone Ravioli.
None of the wine pours were particularly generous. For the 60 bucks, I think you’d be better off picking up a bottle, though each wine did pair very nicely with the dish.
This is like two sips. The Victoria & Albert’s wine pairings were a much larger pour.
Branzino in Cartoccio.
Osso Buco – flavorful, tender, and probably the best pork dish I’ve ever had.
Lisa’s Grilled Tuna with truffle-infused potato risotto with garlic marinated artichoke hearts and a tarragon veal jus.
Wine, drinks, and dessert:
Lisa ordered the Chocolate Souffle with vanilla bean and chocolate sauce. Out of this world.
And my Tartufo, which is ice cream with dark chocolate rolled in hazelnuts.
Palo was our best meal by far and also the most enjoyable and intimate. It was a nice change of pace from the ruckus of one of the main dining rooms. And being just a couple, we were seated with three other pairs of people. In my opinion, that isn’t a bad thing as it’s fun to meet new people and see how their days and cruises are going. They were all very courteous in agreeing to take pictures of all their food. On the other hand, Palo does mean skipping out on one of the main cruise meals. The $30 expense is justified here as I only have fabulous things to say about it, but it isn’t necessarily something I would recommend doing on a first cruise that’s just four nights long. On a 7-night cruise or on a second or third? It’s a no-brainer. I’d skip the wine pairings next time and instead order a couple cocktails or a bottle of wine instead. But wine tastes like wine to me and connoisseurs of the grape may find delight in the tasting size portions of food and smaller pours of wine.
One other tip: if you’d like a view outside or prefer natural light, make sure you book an earlier reservation. You can’t see anything outside once the sun goes down.
Food is a big part of the cruise for a lot of people I think and Disney tends to do a better job than the other big ships. I’m looking forward to the Oasis of the Seas docking in Port Canaveral next year and Lisa and I will be hopping on board the first chance we get. The Disney Fantasy is also on my radar if we can ever find a price less than it would cost to go to the moon.