*This gluten free dining experience took place in May 2019. It includes information about peanut free, fish/shellfish free, and chicken and turkey free options.
Dinner at Animator’s Palate
On the first night of our 3-day cruise on the Disney Dream in May, our dinner was at Animator’s Palate. Having already had embarkation lunch there earlier that day, we were getting double-duty with Animator’s Palate on day one. But, since this is our least favorite of the rotational dining options on the ship, we weren’t too sad to be dining there all in one day and eating at the other restaurants the rest of the cruise.
In my review for embarkation lunch, I talked a lot about the theme of Animator’s Palate. I won’t post as many photos in this review. But, I would definitely encourage you to read through the embarkation lunch post if you’re interested in learning more or seeing additional photos.
For our cruise, we were designated table 32 at all three of the main rotational dining restaurants. Prior to our cruise, we requested to have a table with no other guests. And, we were both happy to see that this request was able to be accommodated. It’s never a guarantee, even with a request, but we’ve been lucky to have it honored every time we’ve cruised.
One of the main differences from the embarkation lunch to dinner is that the restaurant does change its lighting quite a bit from light, bright colors at the beginning of your meal (similar to what you see during embarkation lunch) to a bit more dark during the end of your meal.
The visual cues are a nice way to transition the start and finish of your dining experience. You’ll also notice this use of lighting in Enchanted Garden too, which we’ll talk about in our review of that restaurant.
You’ll also see lots of turtle and Finding Nemo inspired art throughout the restaurant too.
Brandon snapped this photo of me with my Animator’s Palate menu. I love that if you move the menu side to side or up and down, the animation actually changes.
As I mentioned, Animator’s Palate is our least favorite restaurant on the ship. Part of this is the very loud atmosphere (even with second dining, we found the acoustics in the restaurant make it quite loud). The other part is the food. Neither one of us gets very excited about most of the food offered there.
I have two exceptions to that. The first is the Smoked Salmon Tartar. This is marked gluten free on the Animator’s Palate menu and does contain dairy. If you can have dairy and like seafood, this is an outstanding appetizer. It’s super flavorful and really surprised me the first time I had it. I always order this every time we dine at Animator’s Palate. It’s that good.
Since Brandon is also not that keen on the Animator’s Palate menu, he was struggling with what to order. One of the best tips I’ve learned over the years is that if you don’t like something on a menu, you can actually request items from the other main rotational dining restaurants during your meal.
With this in mind, Brandon requested by the Leek and Potato Soup and French Onion Soup from Royal Palace. Both of these are made with vegetable stock, so they are also vegetarian options. They are also fish/shellfish free, peanut free, and chicken & turkey free. Brandon loves both of these soups, so this was a double soup win for him.
Another great tip that I’ve learned is that you can often ask for Indian food, as the ship prepares various Indian dishes every night of your cruise. They aren’t listed on any menu, but your server can help arrange options for you, depending on your special dietary need. In my case, since I wasn’t feeling like any of the entrees from Animator’s Palate, I asked for Indian food on our first night.
Unfortunately, I should have been more specific about what I was interested in with our server Allen. That’s because I ended up with two gluten free, dairy free, and vegan dishes that I wasn’t particularly fond of. I was served some plain rice, curried okra, and lentils in a tomato sauce. The lentils weren’t terrible, but I really disliked the okra. It was poorly cooked and very slimey. Allen did offer to bring me any other entrees that I might like, but since I’d already eaten quite a lot with bread and my appetizer and planned on ordering dessert, I skipped any additional food. So, lesson learned. Be specific whenever you can!
Brandon ordered the Ginger-Teriyaki dusted Angus Beef Tenderloin. This was fish/shellfish free, peanut free, and chicken & turkey free. He said that while the steak was well-cooked, he wasn’t all that keen on the sauce included with the entree.
The other dish that I always order when we dine at Animator’s Palate is the Crunchy Walnut Cake. It is marked gluten free on the menu, and is so delicious. I absolutely love the candied walnut crust and the soft chocolate cake in this dessert. It doesn’t look like anything fancy, but it’s a great dessert.
For Brandon’s dessert, he ordered the Cookies n’ Cream Sundae. This was a peanut free dessert. This has been a dessert he’s ordered several times on our past cruises, and I know it’s one of his go-to’s for an easy dessert. I don’t think it’s anything special, but if you can have ice cream and gluten, it’s not a bad option.
While Animator’s Palate isn’t our favorite of the main rotational dining options on the Disney Dream, we were both glad that the restaurant could easily accommodate us — even going above and beyond to bring us Indian dishes and appetizers from other restaurants. The next time we cruise on the Dream, I could see us skipping this restaurant in favor of going to Palo or Remy (the adult dining locations) instead.
We are looking forward to trying Animator’s Palate on one of the classic ships like the Magic and Wonder. You can read more about those from our friend Alexis at Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures.
Have you been to Animator’s Palate on the Disney Dream? What do you like or dislike about this restaurant?