A Disney Cruise Line vacation is one you won’t soon forget. While it all can be a little overwhelming, we think a Disney Cruise is worth the hype! And part of that is because of their phenomenal service onboard. Rotational dining, which is included in your cruise fare, makes Disney Cruise Line unique and adds an aspect of service that your cruise that you won’t find anywhere else!
Dining on Disney Cruise Line
One of the best parts of a Disney Cruise vacation is the food. Not only is most of the food included, but most of it is also all you care to enjoy. This means you can try as many desserts, appetizers, main courses, and snacks as you like! There are some exclusions of course. Alcohol is not included in the cost of your cruise and neither are special dining experiences like Remy or Palo.
Disney Cruise Line ships have three main restaurants for table service, a buffet, at least one adult-only dining option, cafes, and quick-service counters. The main restaurants, which are unique to each ship, are all available at dinnertime. In addition to that, there are usually two on each ship that offers breakfast and lunch. Cabanas which is available on all current Disney Cruise Line ships(although won’t be on the Disney Wish) is a buffet for breakfast and lunch and offers a table service meal at dinnertime as well.
What is Rotational Dining on Disney Cruise Line?
If you plan to dine at the table service restaurants onboard a Disney Cruise, you’ll be participating in rotational dining. Each night, you will be assigned to dine at one of the three main restaurants. The restaurant changes every night, but your waitstaff doesn’t. They “rotate” with you! This is such a great service because they get to know you and what you like and in turn, you get to know them. After just a couple of nights, they know how you like your steak, what extras you like to request, what desserts you favor and that helps them make better recommendations for you. These rotations are automatically assigned so you don’t have to worry about reserving tables for these restaurants
Pre-covid, rotational dining also had the chance of you being seated with strangers. Since seats and tables are assigned, there was always a possibility of being assigned to dine with another party or even several other parties. Since covid protocols have been put into place, however, Disney Cruise Line has not been using this strategy for seating guests.
When is Rotational Dining held?
Rotational Dining is only held for the dinner meal period. There are two seatings available. The first seating generally begins between 5:45 pm EST and 6:15 pm EST and the second seating usually starts between 8:00 pm EST and 8:30 pm EST. These times can change a bit as it depends on the itinerary, but those are usually the start times. You’ll usually want to allow between an hour and a half and two hours for dinner if you plan to get all courses. Each dinner includes an appetizer, soup, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. And you can get as many or as little as you like.
Initially, you will be assigned to seating, but you can try to change your seating to a different time if you’re not happy with what you’ve been assigned. You may be able to do this under your Disney Cruise Line account, or by calling, but sometimes you have to change the seating time once you get onboard. This can be done at the guest services desk, which is usually located in the main atrium. And unfortunately, sometimes you can’t change your seating time at all.
How do I know what restaurant to eat at each night on a Disney Cruise?
Your restaurant rotation used to be noted on your room key. Now the information can be found on your Disney Cruise Line app. You’ll want to make sure you have this app downloaded on your phone before your cruise anyway since it will be your guide to everything happening on the ship.
Do I have to participate in rotational dining on Disney Cruise?
Nope! You can choose to opt-out of rotational dining by simply not going. None of the dining assignments are mandatory. But if you choose not to dine during your rotation, then you will miss out on the restaurants included in your rotation as they are only available at dinnertime for those who are assigned to eat there that night. You can skip one night, a couple of nights, or all of them. We recommend at least going to the first night of dining to see if it’s something you like!
If you choose not to dine during your rotation, you can find other dining options that are more flexible. Cabanas offers table service at dinner with most of the same menu items as the other restaurants and does not require a reservation. You can also choose to dine at one of the adult-only restaurants, Palo or Remy, which both require a reservation and cost extra; or you can grab something quick from one of the snack stands. Most of the quick-serve counters offer chicken tenders, pizza, sandwiches, and other quick and easy meals. Room service is also available 24 hours a day, so if you’d prefer to just dine in your room, that’s always an option!
Which restaurants are part of rotational dining?
Since each Disney Cruise ship has its own set of restaurants, it depends on what ship you are sailing on! For the Disney Dream, Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden, and Royal Palace. Onboard the Disney Magic, the lineup includes Rapunzel’s Royal Table, Animator’s Palate, and Lumiere’s. The Disney Wonder offers Tiana’s Place, Animator’s Palate, and Triton’s. And on the Disney Fantasy, rotational dining includes Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden, and Royal Court.
Is it cheaper not to do rotational dining?
Not really. The cost doesn’t come off of your cruise fare. But if you skip rotational dining altogether, then you won’t owe any gratuities to your waitstaff. You’ll have to adjust it with guest services, but it does make it slightly cheaper. We don’t personally think cost should be considered with this aspect of a Disney Cruise because we love getting to know the staff and always just include the cost of gratuities in our budget. But we wanted to note it since technically it does decrease the cost by a little bit.
Hopefully, this post has helped you understand rotational dining with Disney Cruise Line! Have you ever cruised with Disney? Do you love the rotational dining system that they use or are you not a fan?