Disney Cruise Formal Night – What to Wear

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A Disney Cruise involves lots of planning – even more so than going to Walt Disney World. You need to know what to pack for your Disney Cruise, what to do first and what to wear. Let’s discuss the basics of the Disney Cruise Formal Night and get you prepared with all you need to know.

First, not all Disney Cruises offer a formal night.

Only cruises of 7 or more days have a stated formal night.

Three and four-day cruises have what they call an optional dress-up night. Here, it’s mostly referred to as semi-formal, but if you have an evening gown and want to dress up, by all means, go for it.

Little girl in red dress standing in front of a large bronze statue of Minnie Mouse in front of a winding staircase decorated with greenery and holiday decorations
The Atrium on the Disney Fantasy decorated for the holidays

What to wear on a Disney Cruise formal night

Don’t think that everyone dresses to the nines on a formal night because that just doesn’t happen.

They are not going to kick you out of the dining room because you don’t have an evening gown on.

Disney describes formal wear as dress pants and a jacket for men and a dress or pantsuit for women.

So, what do most people wear?

Honestly, it’s up to you. There will be those in sequined gowns and others in jeans. Do what you want or what makes you comfortable.

If you have a nice dress from a wedding, bring that. I wouldn’t stress about it. Just go with what’s right for your family.

I decided to buy a new long dress for the occasion. Truthfully, I can’t remember the last time I wore a gown like that. Maybe 20 years ago for a holiday party?

I didn’t spend much – my goal was to keep it under $100 and I found a beautiful black gown at Macy’s on sale for $77. Of course, I had to dig around for my Spanx that I probably also haven’t had on for 20 years!

My husband wore dress pants with a jacket and tie while Little K had a cute red dress that I thought would pop in pictures.

Little girl in red dress standing in front of a life sized gingerbread house with white icing, greenery and a white picket fence
The gingerbread smelled so delicious!

Formal night pictures on a Disney Cruise

Disney Cruise formal nights not only give you a chance to dress up but also to have your picture taken from a Disney photographer.

On our Disney Christmas Cruise, photographers were set up in the atrium at both the large Christmas tree and also in front of the winding staircase (which was closed off at the top so no one could walk on it).

I used this opportunity to have a family picture taken by the Christmas tree, although I would have loved to have the picture taken by the staircase. I just didn’t want to wait in both lines.

We rarely dress up to this extent. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we did. So, I made sure we got a picture of it.

Disney characters in formal wear

It’s not just passengers that dress up for the formal night. Disney characters, along with your wait staff, are decked out too.

Have your picture taken with Captain Mickey in his bow tie as we did. Honestly, this is one of my favorite pictures from the entire cruise. To me, it just embodies everything about a holiday cruise with all my favorite characters.

Man in dark pants and sport coat with yellow tie, little girl in red dress, woman in long black dress standing around Mickey Mouse dressed as a ship captain in front of a gold railing
Dress up with Mickey and the Gang!

Many of the other characters are also around dressed in their formal wear. Chip ‘n Dale are my all-time favs (they actually sit next to me at my computer), so we needed to get pictures with them.

Remember to check the Navigator to see when and where you want to go for pictures if you do at all.

My only disappointment is the lighting where many of the characters have a meet and greets. On our ship, the Fantasy, it’s by the shopping area and there is an orangish glow to all my pictures there. I definitely prefer it when they are in the Atrium because those pictures are beautiful, clear and crisp.

Two people dressed up as chipmunks wearing formal attire and a little girl in red dress in front of red poinsettia flowers
Even the Chipmunks dressed up

Meet your crew

Also in the Atrium on our Disney Cruise Formal Night was the entire crew. Ok, well most of them. Hopefully, someone was steering the ship. Ever want to meet anyone that guides our ship? Now is the time!

Dressed in their formal cruise attire, they happily chatted with us and posed for pictures.

Little girl in red dress next to two ship crew members dressed in white and black uniform
Meet the crew

Disney Cruise Formal Night observations

This was one of my favorite nights on the cruise. Many people are dressed in fancy attire and everything from the dining rooms to the characters looked extra magical.

However, don’t worry if you don’t want to dress up. Plenty of people came to dinner dressed in cruise casual. You will not feel out of place.

Since we never get this opportunity, I just did not want to pass it up. This Disney cruise was a bucket list vacation for me and I wanted to savor and be a part of every minute of it.

What about you? Do you plan on dressing up for the Disney Cruise Formal Night? If you have already been on a Disney Cruise, did you dress up? Please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear your opinion.

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Two people dressed up as chipmunks wearing formal attire and a little girl in red dress in front of red poinsettia flowers under text reading Disney Cruise formal night - what to wear

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