I’d just spent a magical day relaxing on Serenity Bay (my first time at Castaway Cay!) and caught The Golden Mickeys, and I was so so happy to be on vacation. The icing on this perfect day cake? Animator’s Palate. I’d heard such wonderful, fun things about this restaurant, and I was really looking forward to it.
And as we waited to get into the restaurant, my excitement totally mounted because there are awesome sketches adorning the walls in the lobby … building the suspense!
And then when it’s finally time to go inside …
And the cool nods to animators don’t stop there … I mean, obviously. It’s right there in the name, after all!! The dining room looks like an animator’s office, shelfs loaded with character models, sketches, and cells from Pixar (and a few Disney animated) movies, and the load-bearing columns are also modeled after pencils and paint brushes.
The theme even extends to the table settings! The chairs are the restaurant’s largest nod to the king of animation, Mickey, while the table numbers are displayed on the side of paint buckets on each table. The butter knife looks like a painter’s palette knife.
The waitstaff were in on the act, too, wearing black and white shirts covered in animation sketches and teal ties covered in bubbles.
The coolest part of the room, though, is the well-hidden screens, hanging all around. When we were initially seated, the screens look like innocuous cork boards with notes and sketches on them.
As soon as the meal begins, though, the screens come alive with bubbles and suddenly you’re sitting in a huge aquarium! The lighting transforms into a spectrum of blues and greens, and characters from Finding Nemo swim across the screens, greeting diners and telling jokes. Eventually, Crush comes out and starts interacting! It’s a lot like the Turtle Talk with Crush attraction in EPCOT, but it feels so much more intimate somehow (even though the restaurant holds probably three times as many as the Turtle Talk showroom).
As the meal wraps up, the screens transform back into sketches and the colors in the room return to normal.
The meal!! That’s worth talking about! Before we get to the food, let’s look at the Summer 2015 menu (which looks dramatically different than it did during Dan’s cruise in 2013).
To start the “Pacific-rim inspired” meal, we got a basket of garlic and herb foccacia with roasted garlic butter, and then we ordered a couple of appetizers and soups to try. I enjoyed the black truffle pasta dish and the butternut squash soup (always a favorite of mine!). Also pictured are a few other dishes, which Dan photographed in 2013.
For dinner, Dan ordered the sirloin steak with mashed potatoes and carrots. He remembers the carrots being so sweet and earthy, and he recommends ordering the carrots. I ordered the grilled tuna steak with eggplant, fingerling potatoes and sun-dried tomato pesto. The Japanese-inspired beef tenderloin with wasabi mash and trio of veal are also pictured.
Mmmm … dessert time! Time to be honest … I don’t remember eating dessert, so it’s possible that I didn’t! Because I can’t imagine that I didn’t order the pineapple or walnut cakes. But there it is, I didn’t. I suspect that Dan and I shared the Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake, but it obviously didn’t blow me away. The other dishes were ordered by other guests at our table or are from Dan’s previous cruise.
We were fortunate to eat here three times during the trip–twice for dinner and once for breakfast … but when we visited the second and third times, the show was entirely, 100% different, so we’ll revisit the menu and the show in an upcoming post!
Do you love Animator’s Palate? Let us know why in the comments!