When the Disney Dream set sail last year, guest marveled at the upgraded technology within “Animator’s Palate”, one of three main dining rooms on board all the Disney ships, that allowed guests to visit with some of their favorite characters from Finding Nemo, and even interact with Crush, the loveable turtle from Nemo. If you’ve sailed on either the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder, you know that there, still pictures of Disney characters slowly change over the course of dinner from black and white, to color. While impressive, the Dream took things to a whole new level.

Coolest butter knife ever.

With the Fantasy, Disney raises the bar once again. Because the Fantasy sails on 7 night cruises, as opposed to the 3-5 night cruises that its sister ship, the Dream, does, guests will dine at Animator’s Palate twice while on board. Rather then present guests with the same experience both times, Disney decided to add a second show exclusive to Animator’s Palate on the Disney Fantasy known simply as Animation Magic.

Mickey inspired chairs set the mood.

The first thing guests will notice about Animator’s Palate when they step inside is that it immediately draws you into the story. Decorative touches that celebrate Disney’s rich animation history are everywhere, from the chairs that remind you instantly of Mickey Mouse (I really wanted to take one of these home with me), to the table markers shaped like paint buckets. Even the butter knives are shaped like paint brushes. Those you can actually buy in the gift shop, for $10 each. Take a look at the walls, too, and you’ll notice black and white sketches of Disney characters, and cute touches, like Buzz and Woody toys sitting on a bookshelf. 

Table marker.
Animation inspired decor is everywhere.

As you are seated, you’ll see a paper placemat with a template in front of each seat, and markers on the table. Your servers will explain that you are to draw your character (really nothing more than a elaborate stick figure) within the template using the markers, and staying within the lines. As dinner gets under way, the screens around the room come alive as Mickey appears on screen in a black and white sketch. But, grabbing his Sorcerer’s hat, he transforms into color -along with all the other black and white character sketches around the room. By the way, there’s lots of these screens around the room, so no matter where you’re sitting, you’ll have a good view of the action. After this neat little introduction, a montage of Disney/Pixar clips featuring food scenes is shown. I never realized how many movies feature food in them – it’s a lot – but it’s also a good way to pass the time as you work on your drawing, review the menu and the servers bring your drinks and bread offerings to the table. As this concludes, you’ll be reminded to finish up your drawing if you haven’t already (signing your name at the bottom), which your server will then collect.

Your placemat/drawing template.

The food scenes actually continue during dinner service to keep you entertained until right around dessert time (you know, in case you don’t like the people you’re eating with), when Sorcerer Mickey once again appears on the screen for the finale, and this is where you see your hard work pay off. Guest drawings are brought to life and fully animated, travel around the room, going from screen to screen. If you weren’t amazed by your drawing actually moving on screen, it gets better when through Disney magic, they are inserted into scenes from popular Disney movies and get to interact with characters like Baloo, Jiminy Cricket, Donald Duck and of course the main mouse himself, Mickey. I think we all sat at our table in stunned silence marveling at what we were seeing, only breaking it with an occasional “wow” or “that’s amazing.” The same could be said for the rest of the dining room, which had quieted to barely a whisper, all of the guests engrossed in the show.

Yes, those guest drawn characters are doing the hula with Donald.

As the show comes to a close and Mickey says his farewells, keep watching the screens and you’ll see the name of each guest who submitted a drawing scroll across under the heading of “guest animators.” Once again your servers will return to the table, this time to return your placemats from the beginning of the evening, except now they have a gold seal on them, and you are proclaimed an “Official Disney Animator.” While I didn’t submit a drawing of my own – I failed stick figure drawing in elementary school – Chris did. It was a drawing of her stick figure beating my stick figure up. It received a standing ovation.

Animator’s Palate is a wonderful experience for kids and adults alike, and really does a great job of showcasing exactly what separates Disney from other cruise lines. I realize with every review I’ve written about something on the Fantasy, I’ve said “don’t miss this”, but that goes double for this show. If this doesn’t impress you, nothing will.