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…
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.
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!
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…
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!
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 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Here’s the full kids menu, by the way… It had some fun activities on it as well.
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).
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.
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!
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 😉
Speaking of, one of my table-mates did just that! Here’s the pic of his fun 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.
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.