More Disney Dream Diningby Jim Korkis, contributing writer
I previously wrote about some of the stories of the restaurants on The Disney Dream cruise ship, and, since then, I have learned some additional information to share in this column.
Being on a Disney Cruise is like going into a Disney theme park for the first time, you get so overwhelmed that you don't always pay close attention. I don't know how many times I have visited the D Lounge for presentations and never notice that the carpet on the floor has script pages for Disney films like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland.
It's no wonder that the Disney Cruise Line continues to garner awards.
The 2017 edition of the Cruise Critic Cruiser's Choice Awards awarded the Disney Dream the top spots in the large-ship category for Best Overall, Best Cabins, Best Public Rooms, Best Service, and Best Shore Excursions. This is the third year in a row the Disney Dream has won Best Overall in the large-ship category.
The Disney Magic was named as the top cruise for families and Disney's three other ships were also recognized in the best for families categories. The Magic also won Best Overall Ship in the mid-size ship category.
For today's column, I am going to concentrate on the details and stories of the various eateries on the Disney Dream. Believe it or not, between this column and my previous one, there are still many things left to tell.
According to the Disney Cruise Line, on an average seven-night sailing (basically one week), the following food items are consumed:
- Beef – 5,000 pounds
- Chicken – 10,000 pounds
- Salmon – 1,200 pounds
- Shrimp – 1,300 pounds
- Lobster Tail – 1,000 pounds
- Melon – 15,000 pounds
- Pineapple – 4,500 pounds
- Eggs – 71,500
- Coffee – 57,820 cups
- Soda – 3,125 gallons
- Beer – 12,385 bottles/cans
- Wine and Champagne – 2,700 bottles
Disney Cruise Line dining room cast members represent, on average, 86 different nationalities.
Some guests choose to sometimes avoid the regular dining restaurant rotation and survive on room service, the quick serve at the Pixar-inspired outdoor Flo's Cafe eatery composed of Luigi's Pizza, Tow Mater's Grill, and Fillmore's Favorites (that offers burgers, chicken tenders, pizza, fresh fruit, salads, and sandwich wraps), or even spend a dinner at one of the two upscale restaurants that require special reservations and a significant up-charge.
Whatever the choices, these dining venues are filled with attention to details that are often overlooked.
This lounge is located on deck 12 aft, directly between Palo and Remy restaurants, and often used as a waiting area. It is open to all guests from 5 p.m. to midnight for a cocktail or a mixed drink (although beer, wine and coffee is also available), and there is an outside seating for a smoking area, one of the few areas on the ship where smoking is permitted.
With windows on three sides, it offers a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean from the back of the ship in a protected environment. Those guests not interested in the bar can visit during the afternoon.
There are antique maps and nautical instruments throughout the room and compass-point light fixtures. In the display cabinet there are multiple authentic nautical books but there is also a reproduction of the infamous Maltese Falcon. There are passport stamps on the wallpaper, a sextant design on the floor and the rich brown leather couches have luggage straps on them just like in the Golden Age of Cruising.
The bar has the word welcome inscribed in several different languages on its top including: Bienvenidos, Willkommen, Benvenuti, Welcome in Mandarin, Velkommen, Hosgeldiniz and Bienvenue.
Remy is the name of the talented culinary French rat from the Disney-Pixar animated feature Ratatouille (2007), and he is incorporated into the design throughout the upscale restaurant that bears his name on deck 12 aft. Remy restaurant only exists on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.
An additional charge of $95 per person is required to dine at Remy (unlike the smaller additional charge for dining at Palo), in addition to the cost of wine and alcoholic beverages. It is an adult experience only (guests 18 and older) and there is a strictly enforced dress code requiring at least suit jackets for men (or tuxedos) and usually evening dresses for women. Reservations are required.
The staff irons and presses every tablecloth every morning. Those small pedestals next to the tables are where, in the tradition of the Golden Age of Cruising, women would place their purses rather than crudely hanging them on the back of a chair or putting them on the floor.
Many Disney and Pixar fans may not know that, in 2007, Disney was planning on producing a Ratatouille wine with the famous rat on the label to be sold in Costco stores in August of that year.
Disney was going to sell 500 cases to Costco. The wine was sourced from Macon estate Chateau de Messey. Owner Marc Dumont produced it from grapes in his Cruzille vineyard and put the movie label on his regular Bourgogne Chardonnay.
However, Disney cancelled plans when the California Wine Institute put on pressure not to release the wine because the label showed the tiny animated rat holding a tiny glass and its advertising code bans advertising that might appeal to children (by the use of cartoon characters or young models).
Food marketing tie-ins were a challenge because no food company wanted to be associated with a rat, even if it was Disney-Pixar "cute."
In regards to wine, the movie itself features a Chateau Latour and a 1947 Cheval Blanc that the critic Anton Ego drinks. It is considered an excellent vintage (and by some authorities the finest wine in the world and comes from a vineyard in Bordeaux's Saint Emilion) and bottles that are stored properly would remain in a prime drinking window as late as 2050.
At Remy's is a bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc worth $25,000 (and apparently at least one bottle was sold on the Disney Fantasy) on display with supposedly a back-up bottle of it as well. The ship does have a vault and insurance for its most valuable wines.
The film itself includes a wine bottle in the beginning labeled Lasseter Cabernet Sauvignon, a reference to executive producer John Lasseter, a wine bottle labeled Chateau-Bird Champagne named for director Brad Bird and a wine bottle labeled Chateau-Jessup Pauillac Medoc named for production designer Harley Jessup. There are food products in the film named after other Pixar production staff.
As some Disney fans know, Lasseter is deeply involved with wine. Lasseter Family Winery founded in 2000 is in Sonoma County, California. He and his wife Nancy established the eco-friendly winery that produces approximately 1,200 cases of French red wine blends annually although they have the capability of producing more than 6,000 cases.
The wine display case at Remy features bottles from the Lasseter Family Winery and have hand drawn cartoon labels with Pixar characters including Tow Mater; Woody, making a two finger "rabbit ears" sign behind Buzz in his space helmet; and Remy, among others, but they are not for sale. Each bottle is autographed by Lasseter and a cast member at the location stated that only Lasseter himself is allowed to uncork these particular bottles.
Entering the dining room, high above on a light fixture is a small statue of Remy in a chef's hat and holding a spoon that was made out of Swarovski crystal and is worth $15,000. Over to the left on the table is an authentic silver Christofle vase from the famed French manufacturer. There are only 20 left in the world. One is on the Disney Dream and another is on the Disney Fantasy.
The china dinnerware was produced by Bernardaud that has been creating the finest porcelain china in France since 1863. Disney had to pay a premium price for the exclusive design rights for the china in Remy at a cost of more than all the other plating combined from all the other restaurants on board.
The private chef's table dining room is called Chez Gusteau's, after famed fictional chef Auguste Gusteau (whose first and last names are anagrams of each other) in the animated feature and who was the cooking idol and inspiration of Remy the rat. The room is meant to represent his famous kitchen and is trimmed in gold and gold leaf paint and the lush carpet is handmade.
The painting in this room is a cityscape portrait of Paris. Even though the landmarks depicted, like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, are not that close together in the real Paris, but the guests readily accept that alteration.
At the far end of the room is a painting of Gusteau's kitchen from the movie with a hidden rat in the reflection of the pot in the lower right.
The executive chef for Remy is Chef Patrick Albert who was supposedly also one of the inspirations for Chef Gusteau in the movie. In fact, a copy of the handmade carpet in Gusteau's Kitchen dining room was made for Chef Patrick's own home.
In Remy's Wine Vault, which features more than 900 bottles of wine, there is a very special ham slicer. The ship's launch was delayed because Chef Patrick told the captain that Jessica had not yet arrived. The captain assumed it was a special guest. It was the name for the ham slicer. The one on the Disney Fantasy is named Olga.
By the way, every bakery good in Vanellope's Sweets and Treats Shop is made on board in the kitchen for Remy. Both Palo and Remy use all Frette dining linens.
Founded in 1860 in France, and now based in Milan, Italy (so it ties in with both the Italian Palo and French Remy), Frette created custom-design plush bath towels and deluxe bed linens for the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream with what is regarded as the world's finest cotton from El Amria in Egypt.
That Murano blown-glass chandelier in the entranceway is meant to represent a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. The entrance wall are the muted colors of the Italian flag.
The interior was designed so all seats face the window and the winding pathways to the table are reminiscent of the canals in Venice. The colors in the room match the colors in the paintings that are hung on the wall.
Speaking of paintings, that floor length one to the immediate left as you enter feels rough to the touch because of its beading. That is because it is designed that if you take a photo, it will appear three-dimensional.
By the way, the second painting from the left in the dining room has a hidden Mickey in the clouds.
Cabanas, on deck 11 aft, is a buffet-style restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (in the evening it transforms into a table service/cooked to order experience) with a wide selection of options in a more casual family atmosphere than the other restaurants. It is the largest restaurant on the ship in terms of size with both indoor and outdoor seating.
The entrance is a striped canvas foyer so it is like entering a beach cabana. The flock of seagulls from the Disney/Pixar film Finding Nemo (2003) is standing up above on the signpost watching as the guests come in.
There are plaques done up to resemble sand that feature the castles from the Disney theme parks in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Orlando, Anaheim, and Paris, so they are literally "sand castles". Directly across from them are clocks with the actual time in those locations.
The interior area is to suggest "where everyday is a picnic" on the beach including faux palm trees that rise up through the ceiling.
Disney Design Group artist Ron Cohee did the artwork for the Enchanted Garden menu that features the flowers from Disney's animated feature Alice in Wonderland (1951). Cohee was especially excited to illustrate the "bread and butterfly," an obscure character that he felt he would never have had the chance to draw.
The restaurant was inspired by the fabled elaborate gardens of Versailles in France. During the day, it is reminiscent of a brightly lit conservatory that feature white trellises with green arches, and custom glass flower-shaped light fixtures up above. More than 600 light panels arch across the ceiling like a glass canopy.
At night, that canopy changes into a nighttime sky filled with stars and the light fixture "flowers" bloom open and are filled with color. Paintings are illuminated differently and the wall sconces open like beautiful folding fans.
The centerpiece is a seven-foot tall fountain with a Mickey Mouse statue in the center. Mickey is holding a bow and arrow not as a hunter but as a reference to Cupid who is in one of the fountains at Versailles.
The District is a nighttime adult entertainment area located aft on deck 4. It is designed to be a sophisticated location at night, a sort of adult playground. There are five interconnected venues (Pink, Skyline, Evolution, 687, and District Lounge) but each has its own individual identity.
In the hallways are life-sized black silhouettes of the paparazzi and others who are being held behind a red rope and not allowed to the "in" spots where the cruise line guests are. The pixie dust design on the carpet leads you to the restrooms and the other lounges.
At 10:45 p.m. a nice buffet is set out around the corner from the restrooms to not only alleviate a case of late night munchies but also to help absorb some of that alcohol that is being consumed. It is a reasonably upscale buffet includes tiny sandwiches, veggies, Bruschetta bread, mini-pizzas, and bite-size desserts, so it is much more appealing that leaving to go to the Flo's Café for more mundane snacks.
On the port side wall, back-lit pink glass "bubbles" go from tiny on the floor to larger near the ceiling just like champagne bubbles bubbling up. There is an image of a happy, smiling pink elephant reminiscent of the art style of the elephants in the animated feature Dumbo (1941) that looks up and stands on one leg. That image pops up randomly in the different bubbles for a very few seconds.
The concept for this dark lounge is that it is located in a penthouse apartment overlooking the city. There are seven windows (actually 65 inch high definition screens) that give an overhead panoramic view of five different cities that rotate every 15 minutes.
Those cities are New York, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Paris and Hong Kong, and they are not still pictures, but a living environment with moving traffic, blinking neon signs and lights in the apartment building going on and off to indicate the coming and going of the residents. Mickey Mouse waves to you from inside a tiny apartment in Paris.
These "windows to the world" transform from day to night, so if you stay there long enough you, can catch the sunset and evening turn to late at night. The lounge even serves signature cocktails inspired by the featured cities.
Not only does the soft background music reflect each city (eg. Chicago has jazz, New York has Broadway show tunes, etc.) but the posters on the wall are also screens and shift as well to reflect the particular city.
Because the lounge is small and decorated in darker colors, the menus are designed to "light up" so you can see the selections clearly.
The bar is, according to Disney publicity, "an artistic interpretation of the transformation of a butterfly … emerging from a chrysalis." The bar is in the shape of a chrysalis and on the dance floor, the ceiling is in the shape of the wings of a multi-colored butterfly.
Supposedly, as a visitor, you go through a similar transformation as you move from the entrance which is dark and narrow like a birth canal to the bar to the dance floor.
A lot of yellow, orange and red lights arranged in the shape of butterfly wings are hung around the club. The swirling trails of light on the ceiling are meant to represent butterflies in flight.
In the evenings, Evolution also hosts some live entertainment, including magicians, comedians, live singers, and karaoke. During the day, a variety of presentations are held in the location because it is such a large venue.
As you can tell from the columns I have written lately, I am very impressed with the Disney Cruise Line voyages. Others can comment better than I on the food and activities, but I felt that some of the wonderful storytelling throughout the ship was not being enjoyed because it was probably not understood. Hopefully, these columns enrich the experience for some Disney fans.