For the first time in forever, Disney brings a Frozen dinner show to sea — and we got a first look
Editor’s note: TPG writer Summer Hull sailed on Disney Wish on a free trip provided by Disney Cruise Line. The opinions expressed below are entirely hers and weren’t subject to review by the line.
The idea of dinner and a show takes on a whole new meaning at Disney Wish's new "Frozen"-themed restaurant. Here, meal and entertainment merge into one 75-minute festive celebration straight out of Arendelle (the fictitious but decidedly Nordic town featured in the movie).
Disney Wish, the newest ship from Disney Cruise Line, has three all-new included "rotational dining" venues, one of which is Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure. On Disney cruises, every guest gets to enjoy each of the three rotational restaurants at no extra charge, so if you decide to sail on Wish, get ready to "let it go" the night you head to Arendelle.
Going into the much-anticipated meal on the first night of our media preview sailing of Wish, I knew the odds were high that Disney was going to put on a crowd-pleasing show. How could it not with all that blockbuster "Frozen" material to use?
What I didn’t know was how ridiculously good the Nordic-inspired food would be on a Disney cruise. Here's my first impression of what it's like to dine at Arendelle on Disney Wish.
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Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure restaurant
Think of this dinner as an invitation to a lively party with a multi-course meal, live music and important guests of honor. Done Disney-style, that means the dinner party is set in a wing of an Arendelle castle and the guests of honor are animated characters come to life.
At Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Oaken take their places on stage in this theater-in-the-round dining concept and also stroll about the castle hall, er, dining room, interacting with guests at their party.
The main characters are too busy attending this party to be the only ones that belt out the "Frozen" songs kids (and parents) know all too well. Don't worry; you'll still hear your favorite numbers, many are just sung by additional cast members.
The menu at Arendelle
Before the singing starts, you get to decide what's for dinner.
As with all of Disney Cruise Line's included restaurants, you can order as much or as little off the menu as you like at no additional charge.
The adult menu has a selection of bread, appetizers, salads, soups and entrees (including lighter options and vegetarian selections).
On the lighter and easier-to-hold kids menu, young party-goers can opt for thematic meals including baked salmon, a mini surf-and-turf of steak and grilled shrimp, or some carrot soup — for Sven the reindeer, of course. Kid favorites like corn dogs and cheeseburgers are also an option.
The multi-grain rolls in the bread basket are perfectly fine, but they mainly serve as scoops for the delicious onion dip served with them. Tell any junior skeptics the combo is worth trying.
Among the appetizers, we loved Anna's Koldtbord. You can get right in the Nordic mood with this board of salmon, trout, shrimp and fantastic honey dill mustard. This starter was shockingly excellent.
Elsa's Royal Baked Scallops was a fun dish with a fluffy pastry on top; frankly, it could have satisfied as an entree. If you like seafood and Scandinavian-inspired dishes, you'll want to try multiple appetizers.
For entrees, we sampled the seared salmon salad, with the beautiful soft egg perched on top. Because the appetizer was already a nice sampling of meat, I chose the vegetarian option, the potato lefse, which was loaded with veggies and felt just as on-theme as the salmon.
Rare is the day you can leave a Disney Cruise Line restaurant without at least tasting the dessert — and this meal was no exception.
A separate dessert menu is presented as the meal and show near their conclusion. We tasted the signature dessert, which is a chocolate cake with Troll rocks (aka pistachio cookie bits) and a hibiscus meringue. We also tried the apple cake with caramel sauce, vanilla bean ice cream and some almond crunch.
Not surprisingly, both disappeared even after all the other courses, a testament to their taste.
The kids' dessert options (listed on the main kids menu) consist of ice cream or an Olaf S'mores Bar. We obviously chose the latter, which combined all the best components of a traditional s'more, plus Oreo cookies and an ice cream accompaniment, without all the work and mess of assembling your own treat.
Related: 7 ways the Disney Wish has already surprised me
Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure entertainment
A lot goes on during Arendelle's dinner show, so don't come in expecting some light Disney touches in the background, the way you would at the adults-only Palo Steakhouse on Wish. Prepare to be bombarded with full-on Disney entertainment while you eat.
The primary performers for most of the evening are a man and woman who aren't in the films but who look like they would be friends with Anna and Elsa. The cast sang the heck out of everything from "Let It Go" to "All Is Found."
You will find Oaken and Kristoff singing together in one of the show's many humorous moments.
With the exception of Olaf, who sits a little awkwardly on a cart, the "Frozen" characters look the most like the characters of any Disney renditions I've ever seen. From the costumes to the casting and mannerisms, they nailed bringing cartoons to life on a cruise ship.
Throughout the meal, the songs will serve as both background music and the center of your attention, ebbing and flowing with the meal itself. The entertainment will likely keep your kid's attention, but it may also be distracting to those who prefer a more calm environment for dining.
Related: All about the Worlds of Marvel restaurant on Disney Wish
When you’ll eat there
On Disney Cruise Line, you're assigned dinners on a rotational schedule. On the three- and four-night cruises that Disney Wish will be sailing from Port Canaveral, you'll get a chance to visit each of the three main restaurants -- Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure, Worlds of Marvel and 1923 -- at least once.
The other guests and your serving team rotate through the restaurants with you. There's both an early and a late seating time, which you can select when you book your cruise. This means dinner starts at either 5:45 p.m. or 8:15 p.m. each evening.
Related: Why the best Disney vacation may be the one at sea
How was Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure restaurant?
This was the first time on a Disney Cruise that I had to ask for things like water to be refilled. Pretty much the same thing happened to my coworker the following night.
I’ll assume, though, that the serving team will get better with time. What is likely to hold true is that because there is a show going on, you are likely to get to know your servers a bit less here as compared to more traditional restaurants on other Disney ships, where you're better able to chat.
Also, at most Disney character dining restaurants in the theme parks, someone is keeping track of where the characters are going next, though it may seem random to you. In the event that a table was accidentally skipped, the mistake is almost always caught before too long by someone double-checking and the omission fixed.
At Arendelle, whether by accident or design (and I’ll assume design based on time limitations), the characters don’t seem to visit every table while milling about the restaurant. While they went to adjacent tables, no characters stopped by our table — and we had a 6-year-old who clearly was interested.
The next night, some of the characters came to my coworker's table, but not all of them.
This isn’t exactly a character meal, so we didn’t need a visit from each individual character. It would have been nice for each table to get some visits, but that does not seem to be the current structure. We hope that will evolve with time.
Finally, the built-up “Elsa’s magic moment” either didn’t work correctly or I missed something. Perhaps, as an adult, I simply expected more.
Elsa herself owned the moment, but other than perhaps the restaurant having a bluer hue when she was finished, I couldn’t really tell what — if anything — happened. But maybe I was too involved with my dessert.
Related: Guide to Disney Cruise Line ships and sailings
If you like "Frozen," Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure was a very good time — with a pretty darn good meal to boot.
Having been to Scandinavia just a few months ago, I don’t hesitate to say that this salmon and accompaniments were at least as good as much of what we had there. Honestly, I enjoyed it more. I’m willing to blame my uncouth Texan tastebuds for liking a Disney version better than the real thing, but the meal was unquestionably good. If that type of food isn't your favorite, you'll still have some options here, just fewer of them.
You also need to, at least temporarily, say goodbye to Disney cruise meals of the past to embrace this one. You likely won’t have as much interaction with your servers as at other restaurants. And this isn’t the kind of meal where the kids are going to head to the kids club as soon as they are finished eating, leaving you to sip your red wine in peace.
Instead, this is a party from start to finish, with just a few brief pauses between the action to get the courses up and running.
Arendelle also isn’t like character dining meals you may have enjoyed at Disney World where you know you’ll get your turn to ask each character how Sven the reindeer is doing.
This Frozen-themed dinner show is classically Disney but in a whole new way. Where else could you attend the engagement party of Anna and Kristoff within the Arendelle castle ... while sailing on the open ocean?
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