Geeking Out with the Disney Dream, Part 3: The Animator’s Palate Restaurant

GeekMom Travel
I had heard SO MUCH about the Animator’s Palette restaurant on Disney Cruises. Boy was I in for a surprise on the Disney Dream! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

Last summer, before my husband and I had booked our cruise, I had received some recent gouge on taking Disney cruises from a couple of Air Force family friends. One of the families’ favorite parts of the cruise was their dinner experience at the Animator’s Palate restaurant.

But first, a little background on the Disney dinner experience. If you so choose, you and your party will have seating arranged at each of the three formal restaurants. The order of the restaurants is coded on your Key to the World card. For example, my card had the letters “ERAA”, so for our four-night cruise, we ate at Enchanted Garden first, then the Royal Table, then the Animator’s Palate two nights in a row. Why two nights in a row? Because the first of those two nights was the Pirates IN the Caribbean theme dinner — all restaurants converted for the theme night (that’s for another post!).

As I’d mentioned in Part 1, the waitstaff travels among the restaurants so we had the same service team all four nights.

Of the three restaurants, the Animator’s Palate is the most fun and most interactive.

So my friend who was so excited about the Animator’s Palate dinner experience gave me so many details. She told me about how the entire restaurant starts in black and white. The tables, the waitstaff are dressed in black and white, the screens on the wall are covered in first-level black and white concept art. Over the course of the dinner, the waitstaff is slowly adding color to their outfits, and the art on the walls is slowly transforming into Disney’s final visions. Read more about the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder Animator’s Palette experience here.

I was very surprised at how different our Animator’s Palate experience was on the Disney Dream.  We entered the restaurant with the very basic sketches on the screens, but our waitstaff were wearing their black and white shirts with bright teal ties — that looked like a bubbly ocean.

Our server Dimi in his Animator’s Palette uniform. The tie matches the East Australia Current theme of the accompanying show. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

During our appetizer course, our screens transformed from the basic storyboard sketches into scenes from Finding Nemo’s Great Barrier Reefs. The lighting in the restaurant transformed into a spectrum of blues and greens. Characters from Finding Nemo appeared to greet the diners, and the kids enjoyed numerous games of “guess what the silver fish school is making”.

Characters swim around the coral reef screens. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
All through dinner the kids were enjoying the silver fish school making shapes. Sharks, octopus, a clown fish, a cruise ship and in this case, a birthday cake! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

Then Crush, the 150-year-old tortoise from Finding Nemo, makes his rounds throughout the restaurant visiting guests. This is a truly enchanting experience — if you’ve ever experienced the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor attraction at Magic Kingdom or Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT, this is similar. Crush singles out dinner guests and carries on direct conversations with them. We were fortunate that Crush found my youngest son and the following conversation took place:

How enchanting is that?

Of course, we adults were curious about how this was working. The technology for this was borrowed from those same attractions at other Disney Parks, thanks to innovations at Disney Imagineering.  It didn’t take us long to find the panels that didn’t quite look like the others — the cameras must have been hidden behind them!

Look at the upper left. There is a green-bordered screen with pictures of Mr. Frederickson from Up. What you don’t see is the wire coming from behind the panel. There’s the camera! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

The dinner show concludes with some lessons at having fun and being laid back (lots of shouts of “Awesome!” and “DUDE!” resonate around the dining room) before the room transforms back into the storyboard sketches and the colors return to what we had upon entering the restaurant.

So even though our experience was different than what guests on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder receive, it was still delightful and incredibly memorable, especially for the kids!

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6 thoughts on “Geeking Out with the Disney Dream, Part 3: The Animator’s Palate Restaurant

  1. Thanks for these posts about the Disney Dream! My family will be going on the same cruise in a few weeks so it’s great to hear your Geek Mom perspective.

    1. You’re very welcome! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the cruise so much, it was great!!!!

      Stay tuned, I have no less than 7 of these posts total…4 and 5 will come in this weekend, and once I get my underwater cameras developed I can write up Aquaduck!!!

  2. I’ve always dreamed of going on a cruise and now that I have small fry, this is probably the cruise I dream of. I’m really enjoying living vicariously through these posts!

  3. You write a lot about the restaurant decor. Makes me a bit suspicious about the food. Wasn’t it worth mentioning?

    1. Ha ha ha! I had mentioned in Part 1 that I wasn’t planning to write much about the “basics” of the cruise, such as the stateroom and food, because there is so much written on the topic already. The food was incredible at each of the 3 standard formal restaurants I visited, and at the Palo Italian restaurant (for 18+ aged guests).

      It IS worth mentioning, though, that my oldest son, age 9, tends to have a more elaborate taste in foods than the standard kid-menu fare. It was nice to see a more grown-up meal choice added to each restaurant’s kids’ menu. A choice that “matched” the standard menu’s theme. For example, at the Enchanted Garden, along with the macaroni & cheese and chicken fingers was a baked salmon option.

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