Every night is Mardi Gras when you’re enjoying a meal at Tiana’s Place onboard the Disney Wonder! The rollicking restaurant pairs delicious Southern cooking with a New Orleans-style street party to present one of our absolute favorite Disney Cruise Line dining experiences to date.
The dining room
To date, the closest I’ve stepped into the French Quarter is Disneyland’s New Orleans Square or the Port Orleans Resort within Walt Disney World – but I would imagine Tiana’s Place was designed with like spaces in mind. The hall into the dining room is lined with brick walls that sport green wrought-iron railings dripping with loops of beads. Once inside the dining space, there are touches from The Princess and the Frog – some in-your-face obvious, like the stage set to perform musical hits from the film, and some more subtle, such as lily pad light fixtures and Prince Naveen in amphibian form embossed on the dinner plates. The idea, of course, is that you’re enjoying a meal at the restaurant Tiana brought to life in the movie.
This is not the ideal restaurant for a quiet, intimate dinner. We realize there are cruisers in search of just that – and there certainly are options to fit those desires on the ship. We, however, are typically in another boat (ha) sailing with four young crew members – and are pretty much up for a party.
Not a morsel of our N’awlins-inspired meal did not satisfy. For an appetizer, the adults started with the perfectly sauteed gulf shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, green onions and a drizzle of smoked barbecue sauce. For the soup, I spooned up Mama Ode’s creamy tomato and paired it with the bread service of the night, an herb brioche with roasted onion dip. It’s always a challenge for all of us, kids included, not to attack the breadbasket. But there’s such good reason to save room!
On a tip from our delightful dining room server – never did she steer us wrong when it came to menu suggestions – we ordered the melt-in-your moth Cajun spiced sea bass. So incredible was that fish that we would go on to recommend it to our not-so-adventurous junior diners on a future cruise (and they loved it!). The bass came perched on top of shrimp jambalaya, a fennel salad and remoulade on the side that quickly disappeared.
Yes, we managed to find a small space left in our stomachs for dessert. The New Orleans bananas foster sundae and Tiana’s buttermilk beignets nearly sent me blissfully over the edge into my food coma.
The spirited Crawfish Crooners took to the stage to provide jazzy music, including a southern-flavored favorites like “Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book and “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” from Aristocats. Tiana herself, in her long evening gown, grabbed the mic for a wonderful rendition of “Goin’ Down the Bayou” while all the servers paraded among the tables, clapping along and banging on tambourines. Louis, the gator, even gets his moment to shine in the spotlight.
You can bet we jumped out of our chairs and joined in the street party, weaving our way around the dining room to “Dig a Little Deeper”. It’s a whole lot of joyful noise that rang in our heads long after we’d digested that wonderful meal.