*This gluten free dining experience took place in October 2018. It includes notes about dairy free options too.
Embarkation Lunch at Animator’s Palate
Animator’s Palate, located on the Disney Dream, is one of the ship’s main rotational dining restaurants for dinner. On our most recent cruise in October 2018, we learned that Animator’s Palate was now the restaurant available for guests interested in having a table service lunch on embarkation day. On our previous cruise on the Disney Dream in May 2018, it was Enchanted Garden. On embarkation day, guests can dine either at the table service restaurant that is open or have lunch at Cabanas — the ship’s buffet option. We always prefer the table service option because it’s much quieter and it’s also much quicker for guests with special dietary needs. I have found Cabanas to always be extra slow when it comes to bringing out my food. So, Animator’s Palate it was when we arrived on the ship.
Animator’s Palate is inspired by Disney animation. And, you’ll find lots of design elements reflecting art and animation.
Animator’s Palate is a restaurant that is currently on every single Disney Cruise Line ship — although the theme and focus is slightly different in each version of the restaurant. On the Disney Dream, you’ll find a show that features Crush from Finding Nemo. It’s sort of like Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot. During embarkation lunch, there is no show. But, you do get to enjoy the restaurant’s elaborate theming.
I love how the table markers look like a film reel and a paint bucket filled with paint brushes. It’s just another great touch to the theme.
As you can see from this photo, the dining room includes chairs that resemble Mickey Mouse, ceiling posts that look like pencils and paintbrushes, and other various touches of animation. I actually really loved that our embarkation lunch was at Animator’s Palate so we could look at the restaurant’s decor more closely while the restaurant was slower.
Embarkation Lunch includes a specific lunch menu that is unique to that meal. It is a bit more limited than other menus for dinner or even the regular lunches offered during the cruise. The menu does list items that are gluten free and dairy free. But, I do recommend speaking to your server about options.
On our previous embarkation lunch at Enchanted Garden, I ordered items that were marked GF directly from the menu. On this visit, I did ask if the Leek and Potato Soup might be a safe gluten free option minus the bread. The server noted that he would check with the chef to confirm.
While we waited, we did order drinks. We always get a gin & tonic to celebrate our cruise upon embarkation and did so on this visit too. I also ordered an unsweetened iced tea. One quick note about straws. Like Disney World, the Disney Cruise Line is getting rid of straws. You can get paper straws if you ask though.
Before our soups arrived, I was brought Ener-G rolls with butter. Currently, Disney Cruise Line does not carry Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, so if you’re dairy free, you’ll want to ask for extra virgin olive oil or another substitute for the butter. I am never a big fan of the Ener-G rolls — mostly because they are not well heated. I was pleasantly surprised at lunch to find that they were actually well heated, which was great.
Our server also brought me the Potato and Leek Soup minus the bread, as he confirmed that this soup is gluten free (it’s also naturally fish/shellfish free) with that simple modification. The soup does contain dairy. So, if you’re gluten free and dairy free, I recommend getting a salad or smoked salmon appetizer at embarkation lunch for a gluten free and dairy free option.
Brandon and I both got this soup, and I was pretty impressed with it. I liked the texture and flavors and would definitely order this again.
We also both ordered the Sliced Roasted Beef Sirloin with Double Baked Potato, Green Beans, and a Thyme Red Wine Jus. This was marked gluten free and is also fish/shellfish free too. Since we had ordered this on our last cruise in May, we both knew we enjoyed it and that it would be great option. I did have better steak options throughout the cruise. But, this definitely hit the spot on embarkation day. We both agreed that we thought the best part of this entree is the double baked potato.
For my dessert, I was given the “chef’s choice” which turned out to be a chocolate mousse with white chocolate candy swirl and a raspberry mousse. This was gluten free but did contain dairy. Overall, I really liked this dessert, though I think I liked the mousse I had at Enchanted Garden during embarkation lunch on our last cruise a little bit more than this one. Still, it did end up being one of my favorite desserts of the trip. I always recommend speaking to your server about additional options if you’re gluten free and dairy free, as they do have desserts for both special dietary needs.
We enjoyed the embarkation lunch at Enchanted Garden. The table service embarkation lunch continues to be our personal preference. And, we’ll definitely be dining at whatever location is open for this on any future cruises that we take. We love the quieter atmosphere and convenience that it provides for guests with special dietary needs.
What has your experience been with embarkation lunch on the Disney Cruise Line?