The waiter laid out three items in front of me and Zoie, my niece and traveling companion: A menu with a clever moving sketch of Sorcerer Mickey on the cover, a wine list and a paper placemat with what looked like the shape of the Michelin Man outlined in pale blue. I was more interested in the first two items, but the waiter insisted we deal with the placemat first. Mickey needed our help, he said. We were to draw a figure, maybe a self-portrait, and stay within the blue outline. Right away, please.
I can’t draw, especially not a human figure. So I drew a flower on a stem and sketched in a couple leaves where arms were meant to go. Zoie drew a self-portrait. The waiter looked doubtfully at my flower, but he took the placemats.
The menu at Animator’s Palate is quite ambitious, the results good if at times bland. Everyone started with the same selections: bread with sweet red pepper puree, a trio of tiny appetizers – melon and prosciutto, rare seared tuna with seaweed salad, shrimp – then Butter Popcorn Soup with a tiny bowl of caramelized popcorn to stir in, which turned out to be the hit of the evening. Zoie had baked lobster and I had medallions of venison, followed by a warm chocolate lava cake for Zoie, and a trio of bite-size desserts for me.
Then it was showtime. Sorcerer Mickey appeared on the screen with a stack of paper – our sketches. My flower was first to appear, dancing. It was soon joined by Zoie’s self-portrait, then other sketches. Apparently the other waiters were not as persuasive as ours, because the show proceeded with only eight drawings – seven more-or -less human sketches and my flower. (This preview cruise isn't full, and there aren't as many children as on a regular cruise.)The figures walked, they danced, they changed colors. When it was over, our waiter brought back our drawings, now with gold seals affixed.
When the Disney Dream – Fantasy’s sister ship – was launched about a year ago, Animator’s Palate was a big hit because it featured Crush, the surfer-dude sea turtle from Finding Nemo, on the video screens talking to diners and interacting with them. He asked names, hometowns and the like, and responded very specifically to what they said. On short cruises, diners in Animator’s Palate will see only the “Animation Magic” show. On week-long cruises, diners will get “Animation Magic” as well as Crush on a different night.
Tomorrow: A tour of the ship’s technology.