I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that dinner on our first night was at Triton’s. This is the most upscale of the regular dining rooms, not including the special adult-only restaurant, Palo. The restaurant is lightly themed to The Little Mermaid, but doesn’t generally include any show elements or anything like that. It is a very attractive and elegant dining room. This is also the one restaurant that differs from those on Disney Magic, which has a dining room themed to Beauty and the Beast (Lumiere’s) instead. That made this one a somewhat new experience for us, although the overall atmosphere of the two is really pretty similar.
Dinners on our second and third nights of the cruise were at Animator’s Palate, which is the cruise line’s most showy restaurant. The restaurant is entirely themed to Disney animation and is designed so that, over the course of a dinner, the surroundings can transform from black and white to color. This is accomplished through a fairly sophisticated system of video projections and lighting effects.
As is pretty often the case, one of the most effective elements is actually the most low-tech, though. During most of the meal, the entire serving staff is dressed in vests decorated with black and white drawings. During a fairly flashy finale of music and lighting effects (right before the dessert course), the serving staff all leave the dining room and return wearing vests decorated in the same design, but this time in full color. It really makes a surprisingly big impact.
The overall effect of the dining room’s transition is mostly kept pretty low-key and subtle, in order to keep it from becoming too distracting during the meal. This is likely a wise choice, but it might also make the show aspect seem a bit disappointing since Disney’s hype for that aspect does probably raise expectations a bit higher than it can really meet. I admit that my wife and I generally felt that way about it during our first cruise, but I generally enjoyed it more this time when I had a better idea about what to expect.
Since it is a 4-night cruise and there are only 3 main dining rooms, there has to be one that is repeated. On our cruise, everyone ate in the same dining room on both the 2nd and 3rd night. On the 2nd night, the regular program/menu for that dining room is featured and on the 3rd night was a special pirate-themed dinner to tie-in with the "Pirates in the Caribbean" deck party held later that night. While our extra night was also at Animator’s Palate, it didn’t include the full show. Instead, the restaurant was kept in "full-color" mode for the entire meal while pirate-themed music was played. They also were showing various nautical-themed Disney cartoons on the video screens. Finally, the pirate theme was further reinforced by bandanas that were worn by all the serving staff and provided to all the guests as well as menus that were printed on souvenir scrolls.
Dinner on the final night of our cruise was at the tiki-themed Parrot Cay. This restaurant kind of looks like what you would generally expect to get had the Disneyland Tiki Room been made into a restaurant. The only thing it really is missing is the animatronic birds, flowers, and tikis, although those would probably be too distracting at dinner. 🙂 There isn’t really too much of a show element to the dinner there, although they do celebrate the serving staff with a parade of nations towards the end of the meal. During this parade, servers carry flags from their nation of origin while "It’s a Small World" (unfortunately a pretty bad pop cover of it…) plays on the sound system.
That covers the three main dining rooms. I’ll likely post more about the food itself as well as our experiences with Palo (we had brunch there yesterday) at a later time.