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Disney Dream Dining: Animator’s Palate Review

Let me say first — Animator’s Palate was one of my favorite Disney restaurants ever. Hands down.

This place was pure F-U-N! From the decor and themeing to the interaction with Crush the turtle from Finding Nemo, I had a blast — laughing throughout the evening and truly enjoying the meal. I can’t wait to tell you about it…

Atmosphere
Those of you who have cruised on the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic cruise ships will remember that Animator’s Palate slowly transforms throughout the evening from black and white to color. However, on the Dream and the Fantasy, there’s a slightly different model in effect.

Entryway

The dining room on the Dream looks like an animator’s office, filled with books, character models, sketches, and cels from your favorite Disney/Pixar movies.

Even the tables and table settings get into the act, depicting artists’ tools like paintbrushes and pencils. Mickey makes a special appearance in the chair design and on the plates!

Table Seating

Mickey Chairs

Paintbursh Napkins

Table Marker

That Awesome Bread Plate and Painbrush Knife

Carpet Mickey

Where the show really takes place is on the screens around the room. When you first walk in, these screens around the restaurant show cork boards with sketchings pinned to them…

Screens When Entering

Another Screen When Entering

But as soon as the meal begins, so does the transformation! The screens come alive with bubbles and suddenly you’re under the sea — or at least sitting in a huge aquarium! The added fun of being on a ship that’s rocking back and forth really makes that “under the sea” feeling real!

Bubbles fill the screen and the lights dim to blue

Here we are -- under the sea

Throughout the meal, some of your favorite characters from Finding Nemo make appearances. Bruce swims up behind you, the silver school of fish play guessing games with the kids in the restaurant, and Crush — the star of Turtle Talk with Crush in the Disney parks — actually interacts with guests!

I love the way Bruce is looking at this guy...

I couldn’t get over what a fun and exciting experience this was. If you’re a fan of the Turtle Talk with Crush attraction in the park or the Nemo characters, you’re going to have a blast here.

Eats
While the menu is secondary to the show here in my opinion (!!), I still had some lovely eats. I was very lucky to tag along with Theme Park Mom‘s Leigh Caldwell and her family for the evening, so I had the chance to take more pics than expected (yay!). Also, Sarah Holodick sent along a few of her photos and reviews from the restaurant, which we’ll use to supplement the reporting here! The more, the merrier!

Full Animator's Palate Menu -- click for larger version

This was our first dinner on the ship, so I started with a frozen drink (the Blueberrilicious, with Tequila, blueberries, passion fruit, triple sec, and sour mix). Very strong, and not sour enough for my liking… but a good start nonetheless!

Blueberrilicious

Then I went a little crazy ordering double appetizers…’cause I could. (The wonders of cruise ship life!) ;-) After a bit of herb bread and focaccia, starters for me were the delicious wild mushroom risotto (which you know I love), and the creamy butternut squash soup. The risotto was the star of the meal — thick, rich, and full of flavor. Looking back, I wish I’d ordered two of them.

Bread Service

Garlic spread

Wild Mushroom Risotto

The soup wasn’t as much of a gem. It was very thick with a strong butternut squash flavor. It tasted more like butternut squash puree than a soup with ample amounts of cream and butter. Basically, for those who love squash, you’ll love this. For those who prefer their cream soups to be more cream than soup, it won’t be your favorite.

Butternut Squash Soup

My friends and colleagues were kind enough to order a couple of different appetizers — the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes, the Baked Potato Soup, and the sesame flavored Rock Shrimp and Caramelized Onion Cheesecake.

The purseittes were pretty much the talk of the restaurant — everyone loved them, and some folks had 2 portions for their entree! Sarah Holodick says: These were my favorite part of the meal. I love filled pasta and these were no exception.

Truffle Purseittes

The Baked Potato Soup probably would have been a better choice for me than the butternut squash. Here’s what Sarah has to say: I’ve been on a potato soup kick lately, so I had to try this one. It started several months ago when I had the Potato Leek soup at Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany. Once Orlando cooled down enough for soup weather, I made the recipe, and then created my own shortly before the cruise. The soup was delicious. It wasn’t as rich as some potato soups can be when they are laden with cream, but it wasn’t thin either. It was a perfect balance after eating the pasta, and still a light predecessor to the veal.

Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup

And the Rock Shrimp and Caramelized Onion Cheesecake was kind of a dark horse! Nobody knew exactly what it was! Savory? Sweet? It’s a cheesecake…with shrimp? Anyway, it was a hit, but very different. I’ll be posting the recipe for this one soon!

Rock Shrimp Cheesecake

From here, it was on to entrees! Ms. Gracie (our resident kiddo at the table) ordered the mac and cheese, which came with french fries and peas. I love that the pasta came in a little bread bowl!

Kids Mac and Cheese

Here’s the full kids menu, by the way… It had some fun activities on it as well.

Kids Menu 1

Kids Dessert

For our grown-up entrees, we sampled the Trio of Veal and the Lemon-Thyme Organic Chicken Breast. I was very pleased with the chicken breast. Because I was trying to eat a bit lighter (knowing I’d probably be eating for 48 hours straight and this was just the beginning), the chicken was the perfect choice. Paired with a small portion of sour cream mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables, the chicken had a lot of flavor (probably thanks to the skin, which was left on).

Lemon-Thyme Chicken Breast

The veal received good reviews as well. Here’s Sarah’s thinking: My favorite part of this dish was almost a tie between the tenderloin and the pasta. The grilled tenderloin slightly surpassed he pasta, in which the veal had an almost ground sausage-like texture. When I first cut into the tenderloin, it looked like it may have been a little overcooked; however it melted away when I bit into it. The pulled veal shank, although good, seemed somewhat out place on the dish.

Trio of Veal

Sadly, we were almost through with what I like to consider our “character meal,” due to all of the fun Finding Nemo characters swimming through from time to time! But it was time for dessert, so I couldn’t be all that sad!

Dessert Menu 1 -- click for larger image

Dessert Menu 2 -- click for larger image

My judgment took a nosedive and I ordered the chocolate brownie cheesecake. While there was nothing wrong with this choice, I always play “grass is greener” when it comes to desserts! I wish I’d gotten the cookies and cream sundae ;-)

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake

Speaking of, one of my table-mates did just that! Here’s the pic of his fun sundae…

Cookies and Cream Sundae

And other friends ordered the trio of desserts (always a good choice…). This one included Crunchy Walnut Cake, Pineapple Financier, and Lemon Mousse. Here’s Sarah’s take: All three of these desserts were quite good, but the Walnut Cake and Lemon Mousse stood out. The Walnut Cake was like a fudgy brownie, and the Lemon Mousse had a very bright lemon flavor.

Trio of Desserts

Overall
You can clearly see how I feel about this restaurant. Fun, fun, and more fun — exactly what I’d expect from a Disney cruise. But — let it be known — I have had several conversations with folks who enjoyed the original Animator’s Palate on the Disney Wonder and Magic more than the experience currently offered on the Disney Dream. What do you think?

Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

Just a reminder — I was invited by Disney on this Christening Cruise, and my expenses were paid by the company. I am under no obligation to review or discuss the event, and all opinions are 100% my own.

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27 Comments

  1. Heather says:

    SO much cuter than the Animator’s Palate on the Magic & Wonder!

  2. Heather says:

    I’m trying to figure out why people would think it was better on the other ships, the decor looks so much nicer.

  3. AJ says:

    Heather — I haven’t been on the other ships, so I can’t really judge. They just said they liked the overall “show” better on the other ships. Can’t wait to find out first hand! ;-)

  4. Sarah says:

    Aaaand I totally typoed “weather”. I DO know the difference… I guess that’s what happens when typing on a cruise ship at 2am! ;)

  5. Melissa says:

    This was the one restaurant we didn’t get to eat at when we were on the Benefit Cruise! :( Although the other two were great, I’m sad we didn’t get to eat here! Great review and it all looks amazing. It will definitely be one of the top things for the next trip :)

  6. Josh says:

    Wonderful review AJ, and some really great pictures!

    I just love the flatware and plates that they have at Animator’s Palate, as they are all themed PERFECTLY.

    There really is quite the choice of dishes, and they sound great.

  7. cheryl says:

    I saw it inperson and liked the one on the Magic & Wonder better.

  8. Keith says:

    I missed Animator’s Palette this week. I was able to do a quick walk through as people were being seated, and I loved the decor, looked like what I would expect an animator’s office would look like. I loved all the movie screens around with Crush, though I was told there were glitches that night, he couldn’t hear anyone who was talking to him. My group said dinner was good, the “show” was excellent. I missed it, had to go to dinner at Palo (tough call, you know).

    Overall, tons beter than the other ships, very classy, I could eat there every night. Thanks for the review!

  9. Jeff C. says:

    Wow, AJ, that look absolutely amazing. I love all the super-cool touches, like the chairs and the paint brush knife, etc.

    We’ve never been on a cruise, so a question for you (or anyone else): Is dinner a set length of time, or can you spend as long as you want there? I can imagine just sitting there for hours taking it all in, wandering around, checking out every detail. Is that possible, or is everyone given a set time for dining and that’s it? Just curious.

    Thanks for the excellent review. This screams fun to me!

  10. James says:

    Sweet! Thanks, AJ! I am really looking forward to dining at the Animator’s Palate in about a month, and it is great to be able to see the menus and get some substantial reviews before I go.

    I noticed you said that you ordered two appetizers because you could. Do they not limit you to one appetizer per person? Could you have ordered two desserts as well? I’ve never been on a cruise before, so I don’t know exactly how things work.

  11. Keith says:

    @Jeff C – There really isn’t a set time, but if you have the early seating, they are going to eventually kick you out as they will have to get ready for the late seating. Most of the restaurants are open during the day for other meals, so you would probably have more time then to browse at your leisure.

    @James – Our very first Disney Cruise about 7 years ago, I couldn’t decide between three entrees, so the waiter brought all three. I often order 2 or 3 desserts (I don’t finish all of them), but the waiters are always willing to bring whatever you want. Last year, we even sent our waiter to find creme brulee at another restaurant for my DW, no big deal. The food is basically all you can eat, so if you aren’t too embarrassed to ask, it is yours.

  12. AJ says:

    JeffC and James — Keith has all the answers! Jeff, I think you’re going to LOVE Animator’s! Have you guys finalized any plans on the cruise front? And James — since food is included in the cruise price, you can order as much as you want. I never actually ordered two enters (though I did ask for an appetizer portion of a second entree at Palo), but I did order two appetizers and two desserts a few times so that I could cover more menu items in the blog posts :)

  13. W.D. says:

    How about the recipe for Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes? They seem to be the most liked. I tried to get a recipe via Google but didn’t find one. “Purseittes” (“i” before “e” except after “c”…?) even sent my Office spell checker for a loop. This recipe could be the Disney Food Blog’s #1 2011 effort to improve its readers at-home eating experience (and, as an added bonus, add a new word to our collection)!

  14. kellie , australia says:

    hi ,going on march 3rd.. first cruise and i am a fussy eater will they substitute things on the menu

  15. Alan says:

    This screens sort of remind me of eating at the Coral Reef, only with good food. I wonder if they would ever sell that dinnerware? It’s much more subtle than most Disney dinnerware.

  16. Jeff C. says:

    I’m working on Joe for us to add a 3 or 4 night cruise to our September WDW trip. It’s “under consideration” at the moment! How are your powers of persuasion? :)

    Thanks for the info, Keith! All you can eat? Multiple entrees and desserts?!!? *swoon*

  17. Madoka says:

    Another question regarding all-you-care-to-eat dining – We were on the Magic last year and took plenty of advantage of this. Two lobster tails anyone? ;) However, would they let diners do that at Remy? Say, could I order *both* of the tasting menus from the 2 chefs?!

  18. AJ says:

    Melissa — When’s the next Dream cruise for you?

    Josh — Thanks! It was a joy to wander around that place eating for 2 days!

    Cheryl — That’s what I keep hearing. Sigh. I’ll have to check out the Wonder and Magic I guess ;-)

    Keith — I can’t wait to hear what you think about Animator’s after your next Dream cruise!

    Jenn — It’s really fun!

    W.D. — You’ve stepped up the challenge! I’ll scope around the interwebs for the recipe. Maybe I can get someone on an upcoming cruise to snag it for me!

    Kellie — Speak with your head waiter. They should definitely be able to do something for you!

    Alan — Agreed on the subtlety. I really liked the dinnerware and loved how the theme was incorporated into everything. The “animator’s office” thing was very cool. Reminded me of walking through the Animation area in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

    Madoka — I’m not sure on this! I ordered extras at Palo and nobody seemed to care, but Remy is an entirely different animal (ha! pun!)… I’ll ask some folks and see if I can find out the answer to that one.

  19. Connie says:

    On the maiden voyage and totally agree. I loved the theming and the food. I found your site (very nice by the way) while hunting the recipe for the baked potato soup. It’s not the same as the one I have in Disney cookbooks for the loaded baked potato soup. So if anyone has the one from the cruise line I would appreciate you sharing it with me. Also looking for the brioche recipe from the Royal Banquet restaurant on the Dream.

    This was our 8th Disney cruise and definitely the best meals we’ve had on any.

  20. Carol Bracco says:

    We just returned from the Dream and I disagree with this review. The food in the dining rooms was terrible some of it was inedible. Yes, the dining rooms were beautiful and very enteraining but the food and service were horrible. The dining rooms always opened late. We didn’t finish dinner till after 10PM every night. The servers were all inexperienced. I left the dining rooms hungry.

  21. Greg says:

    If you enjoyed he food then you must live in a very rural place! The food was below average to average at best! The Shrimp Cheesecake was nothing less disgusting. Absolutely disgusting!

  22. AJ says:

    Greg — Ha ha! Looks like we had different experiences! I’ve lived in New York City; London, England; Geneva, Switzerland; and now in the very citified Dallas, TX, and I still found the food to be quite good. (Then again, I do love plastic cheese, so what does that say about me? ;-) ) Like many Disney restaurants, my guess is that this place is inconsistent and I either hit it on a good day, or you were unlucky enough to hit it on a bad day. How was the food on the rest of your cruise?

  23. Gretchen S. says:

    I just returned from a Disney Dream cruise and my inner-foodie could not be happier! I have asked a chef friend of mine to try to duplicate the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes as it is simply one of the BEST things I have EVER tasted!! If anyone has any suggestions on the recipe I would love to hear!

  24. AJ says:

    Great to hear it, Gretchen!! :-)

  25. Susan Billingham says:

    The experience of Animator’s Palate is very, very different on the Dream vs on the Magic or the Wonder. I loved them all- you just have to know it is different experience and be prepared to enjoy the differences!

  26. Laura says:

    I am planning a trip on the Dream August 2014. I am very disappointed that Animator’s Palate does not do the changing colors like I have seen in the videos of the other ship. Does anyone know why they would have made it different? What a shame!

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