Sunday, April 19, 2015

DreamWorks Character Breakfast

We got up earlier on day 4 of our Quantum trip than any other morning on the cruise (other than disembarkation day). After a couple of days of waking up so late that we barely made it to breakfast, on that morning we got up with the sun. We had reservations for the DreamWorks character breakfast and we were pretty excited... except for the fact that it started at 8 am. (It ended up being a good thing as it helped us adjust our schedules before we started arriving early at the ports, but it felt so early.) We were really hoping to see Po from Kung Fu Panda as well as the penguins from Madagascar, and even dressed in panda and penguin t-shirts for the occasion.

This breakfast was a "special event" that ran several times throughout the cruise, but we got to go for free. The day that the DreamWorks character breakfast appeared as an event on the ship's calendar, A booked it for our group. A couple of weeks later, they changed it from a free event to $10 per person (for adults, anyway). We were grandfathered in to the free admission thankfully, but were a bit flabbergasted that they would charge for something like that. We figured it would just be standard ship breakfast food, so it really just seemed like a money grab to charge for it.

Anyway, we were really looking forward to the breakfast, as M had pretty fond memories of Disney character breakfasts at Walt Disney World. A bustling breakfast with characters wandering around the tables, chatting with you, posing for photos, just an overall happy experience.

The breakfast was held at Silk (not our favorite place at the time). We got to Silk on time, but things didn't go quite well from the start. We were put at a table on the very far edge of the room, in a section that felt completely separated from the main room. This happened because, even though we showed up on time, we were some of the last people to show up, and they just stuck us where our party of 4 would fit. It looked like there was some stage set up in the front and center, but since we were in that side section, we were blocked by a bunch of poles. We felt a bit like second class citizens. Since they were selling spots, shouldn't they have accounted for how many people there would be so that everyone could see? We were really glad at this point that we hadn't paid for this.

Since it was a character breakfast, they did have a cute themed menu with sections named for the movies and characters. For example, the Kung Fu Panda section had healthy plates, like cold and hot cereals, granola, fruit, and yogurt. The Madagascar section offered pancakes, French toast, and more "international" foods, like herring and smoked salmon. Most of the other sections were Shrek-themed, including the "3 Pigs Egg Shack."

You could get the majority of those breakfast items elsewhere on the ship, but in addition to an entire category of pastries, there was also a large section of chocolate-themed breakfast selections ("Muffin Man's Chocolate Dreams") that appeared unique to the character breakfast, including chocolate milkshakes, chocolate muffins and croissants, chocolate waffles, and chocolate pancakes. While we did appreciate the work that went into making a themed menu like that, in the end, most, other than the chocolate stuff, was pretty standard breakfast fare just renamed for the breakfast.

Neither of us recall ordering a plate with chocolate croissants, chocolate banana bread, and a chocolate muffin, but we have a picture of it from our table so it must have arrived somehow. Did they just bring it to the table? Did we order it but just not remember it because it was so unremarkable? Not a clue, therefore no review.

We do both remember getting cereal, which was to be "served with ninja-sliced bananas, brown sugar, milk or skim milk." Based on the description, we figured the cereal was coming with bananas, sugar, and milk on the side. Instead, the cereal just arrived with milk. We both requested the sliced bananas (and the wait staff seemed a bit confused since we hadn't "ordered" them separately) and had to wait a long time for them to arrive. M waited for the banana before having her cereal, but unfortunately A didn't have that option.

For whatever reason, the waiter decided to pour A's milk for him as if he were a small child. Regardless of his intentions, how did he know that A wanted to eat his cereal first? By pouring the milk for him, he basically forced A to eat that first or else everything would just get soggy. A was understandably annoyed, and that certainly didn't improve his mood or impression of this "special" breakfast. The service at Silk seemed just as bad as our first dinner there.

In addition to the cereal, we both ordered Marty's special smoked salmon plate. No idea what zebras have to do with smoked salmon since they're herbivores, but at the time we got it we didn't even know Marty was a zebra. (We would spend much more time on the DreamWorks movie channel later in the cruise watching lots of Madagascar.) The smoked salmon here was served with a bagel and cream cheese, as well as "traditional garnishes," meaning tomatoes, red onions, capers, and arugula. This was pretty good and we were glad to have this for breakfast, but it wouldn't have been worth paying extra for something we could just get in the regular dining room.

As for the character breakfast itself, it was nothing like Disney. Not even close. The way it was set up, everyone ate breakfast at their tables, and then after that, in the central stage area (that we could barely see), they introduced each character which would then do a little dance or activity with the little kids. After each character's introduction, they quickly made the rounds to each table area, took pictures, and left. Then it was the next character's turn. There were only 3 characters at breakfast - Po, Tigress (also from Kung Fu Panda), and King Julien (from Madagascar). Other breakfasts had different groups of 3 characters. We were glad that at least we ended up at one with characters from Kung Fu Panda, a movie we had actually seen, but overall it was a very rushed process with no real interaction with the characters other than a picture.

We were pretty glad that we had gotten to do this for free as we would have been very disappointed if we had paid any money for that experience. The food was standard, the service was pretty bad, and the character element of the breakfast was so short and rushed, leaving you barely any time and almost no interaction with the characters whatsoever. We don't know if the character breakfast has changed or improved any over the past few months, but if not, Disney definitely does this better.

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