News: Mickey Check Meals Debut on All Disney Cruise Line Ships

Great news for families who prefer to stick with healthy food options during their Disney adventures!

mickey check for kids meals

Mickey Check Meals have now made their way to the entire fleet of Disney Cruise Line ships.

The Mickey Check is an emblem that kids and adults can use on Disney menus to quickly identify meals that meet the Disney Nutrition Guidelines. Mickey Check Meals have been available throughout Walt Disney World and Disneyland. And now, you can add them to your Disney Cruise Line dining options as well.

The use of the Mickey Check and the creation of healthy, nutritious meals continues the work of the Disney Magic of Healthy Living Initiative. The project works to provide nutritious options and kid-appropriate portions.

Mickey Check Meal on Disney Cruise Lines

Mickey Check Meal on Disney Cruise Lines

Mickey Check Meals aim to provide three or more nutritious food groups, including [Read more…]

Guest Review: Disney Cruise Line’s Remy

Join us in welcoming back Victoria Kabakian! She’s treating us to a review of the ultra-posh Remy — a Disney Cruise Line fine-dining restaurant.

Welcome to Remy

Welcome to Remy

The crème de la crème of Disney Cruise Line dining is without a doubt Remy, the Ratatouille inspired restaurant on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. On a recent cruise on the Disney Fantasy, I finally got to check out the “other” adults-only dining option from Disney Cruise Line.

The classic ships (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder) only feature Palo, a wonderful Italian restaurant inspired by Venice, but the two newer ships have also added this French culinary experience deriving half its menu from Chef Scott Hunnel from Walt Disney World’s Victoria & Albert’s and half from Chef Arnaud Lallement from L’Assiette Champenoise, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Tinqueux, France, to create a gastronomic collaboration that is worth every penny (and calorie).

Atmosphere

Located on deck 12 aft (that’s the ship’s rear end for you land-lubbers), Remy is the ultimate tribute to the most perfect “little chef” there ever was. Even before entering the main dining room, two of the wines that are featured in the film Ratatouille are displayed in the wine case: a 1961 Château Latour (featured in the scene where Chef Skinner and Linguini are drinking in the office) and a 1947 Cheval Blanc (featured in the restaurant review scene with Anton Ego). And by the way, you can actually purchase these wines at Remy from their wine vault if you’d like. They cost $13,000 and $25,000 respectively.

1961 Château Latour

1961 Château Latour

1947 Cheval Blanc

1947 Cheval Blanc

Wine vault

Wine vault

Past the wine display is the intimate and elegant dining room, with windows stretching from end to end. This is truly the perfect setting for enjoying a view of the sunset during your meal. In fact we did, and trust me, it was stunning.

The view from our table

The view from our table

Sunset

Sunset

Details featuring Remy and his brother Emile can be found throughout the main dining room. Remy is found hidden in glass atop one of the vibrant chandeliers. He is carved in wood on the backs of chairs. Remy and Emile are stitched into the fabric of the booths and their figures frame every mirror in the space.

Remy atop one of the lighting chandeliers

Remy atop one of the lighting chandeliers

Rat detail on the back of a chair

Rat detail on the back of a chair

Part of the gorgeous dining room

Part of the gorgeous dining room

Rats stitched onto a booth

Rats stitched onto a booth

Remy on one side of a mirror

Remy on one side of a mirror

And his brother Emile on the other side

And his brother Emile on the other side

Upon further exploration, there are two additional dining rooms: a small wine room and of course the beloved Gusteau room, which is a replica of Gusteau’s restaurant in Ratatouille and even features a painting depicting the kitchen at Gusteau’s. A hand-woven carpet (one of three on the ship — the others are found in the atrium and the bridge where the ship is navigated). We’re told it took several months to create.

The Gusteau Room

The Gusteau Room

The hand-woven carpet is a focal point

The hand-woven carpet is a focal point

The painting of Gusteau’s kitchen

The painting of Gusteau’s kitchen

Eats

Although Remy also offers a Champagne brunch (at a $50 surcharge) on sea days, on this recent cruise we decided to splurge on dinner (a $75 surcharge plus $99 more if you add the wine experience, which we did not). First and foremost, the meal begins with a very special Champagne cocktail inspired by a very special character in the film, Colette.

 

The Colette

The Colette

The Colette is prepared tableside and includes a bit of strawberry, a mint leaf, some Absolut Pears, and Taittinger Champagne. By mixing the Champagne with a spirit, the bubbles dissipate, but by adding a small bit of dried apricot at the end, it creates an effervescent effect that mimics the natural bubbles in Champagne. It’s like a fun magic trick that you get to drink. Cheers.

Tableside preparation of the Colette cocktail

Tableside preparation of the Colette cocktail

After the strawberry and mint, they add the Absolut Pears

After the strawberry and mint, they add the Absolut Pears

Taittinger Champagne

Taittinger Champagne

Adding the bubbly

Adding the bubbly

The dried apricot replaces the lost bubbles

The dried apricot replaces the lost bubbles

The finished product

The finished product

Even before menus are presented, another taste of apparent magic hits your plates. The amuse bouche is a small sphere of deep-fried tomato soup. How is it made, you ask? Well after guessing that it’s prepared similarly to the way Chinese soup dumplings are made (using gelatinized broth in the filling, which then essentially melts when its heated), our amazing server Guiseppe confirmed that my suspicions were on the right track. How does it taste? Like deep-fried tomato soup, and oh so good.

Deep Fried Tomato Soup

Deep Fried Tomato Soup

A selection of fresh breads including tiny baguettes, multi-grain, and caramelized onion brioche are offered up next along with creamy butter from Vermont and sea salt from Bordeaux in France. The baguettes feature the perfect sound that Colette describes in the film as being a sign of great French bread. It has that crackle and that perfect taste and texture. The brioche is delicate and rich, another classic French creation. The multi-grain is the only bread I didn’t try.

The rat-detailed bread plate

The rat-detailed bread plate

Bread Selection

Bread Selection

Butter and Sea Salt

Butter and Sea Salt

The menu is divided in half with two tasting menus (with a la carte options as well so you can easily mix and match). The Saveur menu (meaning “flavor” in French) is created by Lallement, while the Goût menu (meaning “taste”) is created by Hunnel. Both are exquisite options, and while my sister opted to stick to the Goût side of the menu, I tried a little bit of each.

Dinner Menu

Dinner Menu

Our next treat from the chef before starting our official first course is langoustine with lobster bisque and lettuce reduction. The bite of langoustine is perfectly tender and succulent atop the super flavorful mound of bisque. The flavor of the sea really shines through here, creating a lovely start to this very special meal.

Langoustine with lobster bisque and lettuce reduction

Langoustine with lobster bisque and lettuce reduction

For our first course, we both selected the Wagyu carpaccio with ratatouille, basil coulis, 8 year aged Modena balsamic, and Parmesan crisps. The cold ratatouille is actually hidden underneath paper-thin layers of one of the world’s most famous beefs. The soft textures of the beef and ratatouille are offset by the Parmesan crisps, while the basil coulis and aged balsamic each provide contrasting nuances of herbaceous freshness and sweetness.

Wagyu Carpaccio

Wagyu Carpaccio

Ratatouille hidden underneath

Ratatouille hidden underneath

For our second course we tried the scallop crusted with masago (Japanese pearl rice) and served with a curried coconut broth, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy. The scallop itself is the largest scallop I’ve ever seen in my life. It is perfectly cooked, still soft and slightly under in the center, with a lovely crisp texture on the exterior from the masago. The curried broth is so full of flavor, I wanted to tip the edge of the bowl directly into my mouth and slurp. Don’t worry, I didn’t. Anton Ego wouldn’t approve of that behavior!

Scallop with curried coconut broth

Scallop with curried coconut broth

Our third course is a polenta and chicken egg yolk stuffed ravioli served over a mixture of corn, black barley and poulet rouge topped with a sweet corn emulsion. This course truly encompasses the chicken AND the egg. I love the sweetness in this dish from the three different uses of corn (polenta in the filling, and corn in the base and in the emulsion). The chewiness from the black barley adds a great textural element, and of course the oozing yolk is the highlight of the dish.

Ravioli

Ravioli

Mmmmm, runny yolk!

Mmmmm, runny yolk!

My sister’s entrée from the Goût side of the menu is onion ash and black Hawaiian salt dusted lamb medallions, asparagus, marble potatoes, and pickled onions. The meat is succulent with a very unique flavor from that onion ash dusting. My sister only spared me one bite (but it was a wonderful bite) and she couldn’t stop swooning about her choice. It really is a lovely dish.

Lamb

Lamb

My entrée from the Saveur side of the menu is cold smoked and pan-roasted Wagyu beef with carrot puree, baby carrots, an orb (thanks, molecular gastronomy) filled with more carrot puree and braised short rib, spinach coulis, and served with a tableside drizzle of Bourguignon sauce. The beef is cooked perfectly and is so utterly tender. The bit of carrot puree and braised short rib that is encapsulated on the dish (not too visible in the picture, unfortunately) is a really neat surprise. It almost bursts in your mouth with sweet carrot puree and then that delicious meatiness that is short ribs. Oh yes. No regrets.

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu Beef

At this point because we were here for my birthday (belated, but still worth celebrating!) the chef actually came out and took a photo with us and then signed personalized menus for us. What a great treat!

Personalized signed menu

Personalized signed menu

Next it’s time for the famous Remy cheese [Read more…]

Guest Review: Royal Court Aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Fantasy

We’re embarking on the high seas today! Guest Author Victoria Kabakian is taking us to the Royal Court on the Disney Fantasy. Let’s sail away…!

One unique feature of Disney Cruise Line is their innovative Rotational Dining system, meaning that each night guests alternate between three main dining rooms, and their servers follow them from room to room based on the pre-scheduled rotation.

The Disney Fantasy features the Enchanted Garden, Royal Court, and Animator’s Palate as its three main dining rooms. Of these three, Royal Court is the only one that serves table service options for all three meals of the day.

Royal Court

Royal Court

Atmosphere

Located just beyond the beautiful atrium on deck 4 of the ship, Royal Court is designed to capture the whimsy of nearly every fairytale princess imaginable. The vast dining room has a very regal look, and in its center, beneath a crystal chandelier, is a large round table surrounded by plush red chairs that are larger and more elegant than the others in the room. This focal point is just one of many sophisticated and regal-looking features throughout the room.

Dining Room

Dining Room

The center table

The center table

The lovely red chairs

The lovely red chairs

The remaining chairs in the dining room have crowns engraved in the woodwork, adding another small detail to a dining room already bursting at the seams with Disney princess love.

Crown detailing

Crown detailing

A major decorative element in Royal Court is the Disney princess-themed mosaics found throughout the space. They include beautiful renditions of scenes from Disney movies such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid.

Cinderella mosaic

Cinderella mosaic

Sleeping Beauty mosaic

Sleeping Beauty mosaic

Snow White mosaic

Snow White mosaic

Beauty and the Beast mosaic

Beauty and the Beast mosaic

Aladdin mosaic

Aladdin mosaic

The Little Mermaid mosaic

The Little Mermaid mosaic

The dining room space near the Cinderella mosaic—gorgeous lighting too!

The dining room space near the Cinderella mosaic—gorgeous lighting too!

The lighting around the dining room includes small spot lights as well as large gold-accented pieces atop golden pillars. The detailing in the lights depict golden leaves as well as roses at the top of the pillars, adding to the regal look of the room.

Great detailing on these lights

Great detailing on these lights

Other accents throughout the space include Cinderella’s carriage in more ways than one. Her carriage is featured prominently on platforms around the circumference of the center part of the dining room, but it also makes up the bread baskets used at Royal Court!

Cinderella's Carriage Light

Cinderella’s Carriage Light

Cinderella’s carriage bread basket

Cinderella’s carriage bread basket

Cinderella’s carriage on the front door to Royal Court

Cinderella’s carriage on the front door to Royal Court

Breakfast Eats

As I mentioned earlier, Royal Court is the only dining room on the ship to feature table service meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During my recent cruise, I made sure to visit Royal Court for each of these meals so I could share some insight on all of them.

Breakfast Menu

Breakfast Menu

First, let’s start with breakfast. The menu categories range from Delicious Fruit Yogurts to Healthy Options, Off the Griddle, From the Cold Galley and From the Hot Galley, as well as a Children’s Menu. Typical drink options are available, but I decided to start breakfast the same as I start most my meals on a Disney Cruise, and that’s with an iced tea. It’s light and refreshing, and always hits the spot.

Iced tea

Iced tea

Our server at breakfast suggested we try one of the yogurts to start, and even though we hadn’t planned on it, the Mango Mountain Hike sounded really intriguing. It’s almost like a mango yogurt smoothie/thick soup with granola in it, giving it a bit of texture and added flavor. Holy moly! This quickly became an obsession between both my sister and I, and I’ve even emailed Disney to see if I can get a recipe. Yum!

Mango Mountain Hike

Mango Mountain Hike

The bread service at breakfast features a variety of breakfast pastries that are offered tableside from a basket. I selected a pain au chocolat from the options. Although the chocolate was still soft, the pastry itself was also quite soft, not really flaky. It was tasty, but not the best pain au chocolat I’ve tried by a long shot.

Pain au chocolat

Pain au chocolat

For breakfast, we both selected [Read more…]

Holiday Happy Hour Recipe: The Christmas Cookie Cocktail

Whether you need something to add a little Holiday cheer to gift wrapping, or you’re looking for the perfect after dinner drink for your Christmas party this weekend, I totally think you should give this Christmas Cookie Cocktail a try. Served on Disney Cruise Line ships during the holidays, we think it’s a great way to kick up the festivities just a little!

It’s like the best grown up milkshake, ever! And it has all the cozy, delicious flavors of the season — cream, coffee, and the cooling flavor of peppermint.

Disney Cruise Line's Christmas Cookie Cocktail

Disney Cruise Line’s Christmas Cookie Cocktail

Check it out!

Disney Cruise Line’s Christmas Cookie Cocktail

Makes One Cocktail

Ingredients:

1 ounce Baileys Irish Cream
1 ounce Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
1 ounce peppermint schnapps
Vanilla ice cream
Chocolate sauce
Whipped cream
Cookie shavings

Instructions:

[Read more…]

Review: Croissant Berry Bread Pudding at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot’s Land Pavilion

When it comes to Disney World, sometimes I think there are morning park people and there are night park people.

I’ve always considered myself a night park person… I’m always up for a viewing of any of the nighttime spectaculars, and I’ve never been able to pick a favorite out of Illuminations, Wishes, or Fantasmic!

And the lights on the buildings on Main Street or the torches surrounding World Showcase only add to atmosphere. Plus, the blazing Florida sun has set, so you know… bonus!

But even I have to admit that sometimes the early bird really does catch the worm. Check out this unbelievably peaceful atmosphere for an early morning breakfast of Croissant Berry Pudding at Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons!

Early morning at Sunshine Seasons

Early morning at Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons Sign

Sunshine Seasons Sign

Can’t you just hear the music from Soarin’ somewhere in the back of your mind :) ?

Anyway, while the crowds are lining up for their morning java over at Fountain View (Starbucks) Cafe, Sunshine Seasons has a few great A.M. treasures (available until 11:00AM) that shouldn’t be overlooked.

You can find plenty of bakery pastries alongside hot breakfast dishes, including an Egg and Bacon Breakfast Panini; a full Breakfast Platter featuring eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and a biscuit; and – the reason for today’s visit – a Croissant Berry Bread [Read more…]

Guest Review: Dinner at Palo Aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Fantasy Cruise Ship

Ahoy to Rachel Gardner! She brings us a delicious review of the exclusive table-service restaurant, Palo, aboard the Disney Fantasy.

Atmosphere

Warm tones of reds, greens, and taupes; elegant wood paneling; large spacious dining rooms with sweeping ocean views; the smell of Italian food wafting from the plates around you as you make your way to your table: this is Palo.

A warm chandelier welcomes diners!

Meaning pole in Italian, Palo is named after the pole to which the gondoliers tie up the gondola when docking.

Palo’s Dining Room

Sweeping ocean views create a serene [Read more…]

The Year in Review: Top 10 Disney Food News Items of 2013!

If you’re a Disney Food Fan, then 2013 has been an exciting year!

Disney food news stories of 2013

We’ve had lots of  change, new announcements, and brand new experiences.

So today, we thought we’d take a look back at this year, and review the Top 10 Disney Food News Items of 2013!

From new coffee to new restaurants, new technology to new ice cream, we have a ton to cover!

Let’s get started!

1. COFFEE!

When Starbucks and Disney announced in 2012 that the coffee giant would be coming to Disney Parks, the news was huge! And when the first Walt Disney World locations began opening in 2013, the story once again topped the list of Disney food headlines.

Starbucks at Main Street Bakery is Right in the Middle of the Magic

The first location to open was Main Street Bakery on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA. While some loyal fans of the historic spot decried the chain store intrusion, many coffee lovers were thrilled that they could now enjoy their favorite brew in the shadow of Cinderella’s Castle.

And with the Main Street cinnamon rolls available at Gaston’s Tavern (at least they claim they’re the same…you can see our cinnamon roll throw down here!), well — at least not all of our favorite goodies are lost.

A Busy Morning at Main Street Bakery

The reopening of Fountain View Cafe in Epcot as the second WDW Starbucks location seemed to ruffle fewer feathers, since the themeing for the futuristic ice cream parlor wasn’t as beloved as Main Street Bakery. Still, patrons were irked with the lack of seating, even if the many, many bays for ordering mean that your java arrives fresh and fast.

Have Your Starbucks in Epcot with a View of Spaceship Earth

But Starbucks wasn’t the only coffee news we debated in 2013. Disney also announced that Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company, headquartered in Tampa, would become the official specialty coffee provider for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Vacation Club resorts.

Joffrey’s is Named the Official Coffee Brand of Disney Parks

We’ve been enjoying Joffrey’s products for ages at the kiosks throughout the parks, so this was welcome news to many. So far, we are hearing that you seem pleased with the switch from Nescafe to Joffrey’s.

2. RESTAURANT FASTPASS TESTING — AND MORE TECH UPDATES!

Waaaaayyyyy back in January of this year, we first wrote about how we thought My Magic+ would affect Disney Dining.

mymagic+

And before the year was out, we had the opportunity to see just how some of the new technology would work.

One of the most intriguing uses of MyMagic+ technology was the Touch to Pay System. We had an opportunity to put our Magic Bands to work with the new system, and Erin, our Disney Food For Families columnist, documented the process so our readers could be in the know!

Erin Paying with Her Magic Band at Artist Point!

Erin Paying with Her Magic Band at Artist Point!

And while we love the Magic Band concept, even cooler is all the Disney food bling that you can get to individualize your bracelet! I’m a sucker for the cupcake!

Magic Band Food Bling

Magic Band Food Bling

 

Another rumor that came to fruition was that [Read more…]

News! Royal Court Royal Tea on Disney Cruise Line’s Fantasy

We have news about a very special new experience that you can book with Disney Cruise Line!

Disney’s newest ship, the Fantasy, is now offering the Royal Court Royal Tea, an interactive experience featuring some of Disney’s most popular characters — the Disney Princesses.

Cinderella Greets Guests During the Royal Court Royal Tea

Hosted by Lady Chamomile and Chef Brule — two new characters created to bring the event to life — guests are invited to interact with several princesses while they dine on traditional teatime fare.

Lady Chamomile Brings the Royal Court Royal Tea to Life

Young guests also receive gifts. Girls are presented with tiaras and boys receive swords as they are announced to the assembly.

Belle at Tea with a Young Guest

But that’s not all. Boys will also receive a Duffy Bear in cruise finery, pins, and shields. Girls will be surprised by a [Read more…]

Review: Carioca’s on the Disney Magic Cruise Ship

Today we’re visiting the newest Disney dining establishment on the high seas… Carioca’s!

Atmosphere

The Disney Magic is Disney Cruise Line’s original ship. After fifteen years of sailing, she recently underwent her first lengthy renovation (referred to as a “re-Imagineering” by Disney Cruise Lines :) ). Several of the dining and adult lounge areas were refreshed and enhanced, while others received a complete redesign.

With the ship’s launch in 1998 came the introduction of Disney’s unique approach to dinner seating known as Rotational Dining. Instead of gathering in one large dining room every night, guests aboard Disney Cruise ships are assigned to a rotation among three different dining rooms. Their table servers rotate with them, getting to know their likes and dislikes (as well as any special dietary needs), allowing for a more seamless dining experience.

Welcome to Carioca's

With the Magic’s recent post-renovation relaunch, what was formerly Parrot Cay in the dining rotation has become Carioca’s!

Atmosphere

Carioca’s is inspired by and named after Donald Duck’s pal, the one and only José Carioca! You may know José from two Disney films from the early 1940s: Saludos Amigos and The Three Cabelleros.

Mural

Even if you aren’t familiar with these films, you may have enjoyed sailing and singing along with José, Donald, and their third amigo, Panchito, on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion!

Gran Fiesta Tour

“Where one, two, and three goes, [Read more…]

Photo Tour! Re-Imagined Restaurants and Lounges on the Disney Magic Cruise Ship!

Remember when we told you that the Disney Magic cruise ship was about to get a full makeover?? Well, today we have an awesome photo tour for you!!

The Re-Imagined Disney Magic

The Disney Magic – The original cruise ship of the Disney Cruise Line – first set sail in 1998. Fifteen years later, she has just launched again after a lengthy stay in dry-dock where she spent her time being “re-imagined.”

Re-imagining is more than simply being refurbished or refreshed. Some spaces around the ship were entirely redesigned while others were enhanced. She sure is a beauty!

Disney Magic

Since the re-imagined areas are primarily public spaces, this, of course, means that some of the dining areas and adult lounges were re-imagined or refreshed as well! Though some spaces, already timeless, remained unchanged or just refreshed.

Let’s have a look inside this amazing vessel and see what’s new!

Carioca’s

The biggest update to the dining scene on the Disney Magic is the addition of Carioca’s.

Carioca's Entrance

What was previously Parrot Cay now pays homage to one of Donald Duck’s [Read more…]