Lunch with a
Disney Artist

With the closure of the Animation Studios in WDW,
this lunch has been discontinued.

There is a lunch/dinner experience with a Disney Imagineer
that may be of interest.


Lunch with a Disney Artist Review

August 12, 2003

Lorraine & Lynnette Penoro write: I am writing to report back on our recent trip to WDW. A great amount of credit is due to your website for the huge success of our trip. In our preparations, we happened across the "Lunch with a Disney Artist".

We made a priority seating in advance of our arrival for Tuesday, August 12 for myself and my 13-year old daughter, Lynnette, who is a budding animation artist in her own right. Then began the anticipation.

Well, this event was truly the highlight of our trip. We arrived at the Hollywood Brown Derby a little early, and then were taken to our private room where the table was set with 2 etched glass souvenir plates standing on easels, and individual menus with our names imprinted on them. We were so fortunate to have our lunch hosted by Sam Ewing, who arrived shortly after we did.

We were nervous about meeting a Disney artist and so in awe, but Sam was so easy-going, we soon relaxed and chatted like old friends Lynnette brought some of her sketches with her and Sam was kind enough to praise her talent and give her some professional suggestions to incorporate into her work, along with suggestions for art schools. He was truly sincere and gave Lynnette his undivided attention, which she was thrilled with.

Then we talked at length with Sam about his work at Disney and how he worked on Jafar, Khan (the horse in Mulan, and how hard it is to draw horses), Stitch (he's one of our favorites), and now Koda from the new Disney animated film, "Brother Bear". (We came home and looked for Sam's name in the credits of all of our tapes). We also learned that Sam's dad was also a former Disney artist.

The food at the Brown Derby is absolutely delicious and exquisitely presented (like a work of art). Our waiter, Fonzie, was very nice and took the time to explain about each choice and course on the menu. We began with Lobster Bisque with Peppered Creme Fraiche and
Sorrel, then the famous Cobb salad (chopped greens, turkey breast, bacon, egg, tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese, avocado, and Cobb salad dressing). Our entree was a choice of: Grilled Filet Mignon with Boniato mash, crisp peppered onions and "Chimichurri" Aiioli and Rich Cabernet Reduction (Me); Thai Noodle Bowl with Barbecue Breast of Chicken, Sugar Peas, Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms in a Red Curry Broth (Lynnette); Pan-fired Grouper over Roasted Asparagus, Citrus Plugra Butter sauce topped with Sweet Onion Marmalade (Sam). Dessert was Bananas Foster Mascarpone Cheesecake with Cherry Compote and Port Wine Reduction. This was out of this world. We were sorry for our lunch to end, and thanked Sam for the wonderful experience. He autographed our plates for us (told Lynnette to keep drawing) and posed for pictures, then we said our good-byes.

This was truly a delight and I hope that this program will continue. I think that we would like to do this again on our next trip to WDW. It is definitely worth the cost and gave us some new insight to what goes into the production of a Disney feature animated film, (and inspiration to a future Disney artist?)

Thank you for all your hard work to keep all of this information updated on your website.

Bernice and Melanie Marshall had Lunch with a Disney Artist in October and again in December. They file these reports!

During our visit to WDW in October, my sister, Melanie, and I were fortunate to be part of an awesome new Disney dining experience. This exciting new dining package is called Lunch with an Artist. The lunch takes place at the Brown Derby MGM Studios and included a specially prepared lunch, a block of time with an animator, a personalized souvenir menu and an autographed souvenir plate. Although the lunch is usually hosted by one animator, we were fortunate to be dining with two animators.

We arrived at the Brown Derby at the specified time and checked in at the desk. We were escorted to the Garden Room where we were introduced to Pam, Brown Derby Manager and Kevin, our server. We were then introduced to our hosts for lunch, Ruben Aquino and Byron Howard. We were seated at the corner table by the windows and the room was exclusively ours for the sole purpose of dining with the animators. After a brief introductory chat, Pam left us with Ruben and Byron so that we could begin our conversation. All four of us were a little nervous: the animators because they had never hosted lunch in this manner and we were in awe of the talent sitting across the table. We all admitted this to each other and the ice was broken! For the remainder of the lunch, we talked as if we were old friends.

Shortly after we began our conversation, Chef Tim arrived and asked if we had any dietary concerns. Once voiced, we had the honor of having Chef Tim take charge of our dining experience.

The first course was oyster soup. This is a specialty of the Brown Derby but not always on the menu. We were lucky enough to have this soup especially prepared for us and found out first hand why it is so popular. Our next course was Shrimp Toast. A large shrimp was on top of two circles of toast that engulfed a seafood stuffing. The citrus soy sauce completed the fabulous taste. This was followed by Spiced Breast of Duck with Arugula and Pear Salad. The duck was very tender and very tasty.

Next, we were served individual Classic Cobb Salads with a specially prepared dressing instead of the usual Cobb Salad Dressing. Kevin explained the history of the Cobb salad, how it came to be known as the Cobb Salad and became a specialty of the original Brown Derby.

During the appetizers, our conversation covered a wide variety of topics. We discussed animated movies, the characters that Ruben and Byron animated, our home towns, childhood memories, and many, many more diverse topics. Ruben told us that the first animated feature he worked on was the Black Cauldron, but it got much better from there. Some of the characters he animated were Maurice in Beauty & the Beast, Ursula in The Little Mermaid, and adult Simba in the Lion King. Both Ruben and Byron worked on Lilo and Stitch. Ruben animated Pleakley and David Kavena while Byron animated Cobra Bubbles.

We were then presented with our entrée, Pan-Fired Grouper over balsamic roasted asparagus, lemon plugra butter sauce, topped with sweet onion marmalade. Melanie does not usually enjoy fish, but she decided to try it. She loved it!! The grouper was thick, flaky and delicious.

Pam stopped by after the entrees to have Ruben and Bryon autograph our souvenir plate and to tell us that our time was almost at an end. All four of us stated that we couldn't believe how quickly the time had gone and tried to steal a few more minutes!

Our dessert selection consisted of Grapefruit cake, vanilla bean crème brulee, a chocolate tart and cheesecake. We shared them around and barely finished when it was time for Ruben and Byron to leave. We shook hands, thanked each other and were sorry that the allotted time was so short.

After the animators left, we had an opportunity to talk with Chef Tim. We were happy to have the chance to complement him on superb selections.

Melanie and I were thrilled to have been able to be a part of this new experience and highly recommend this to people who are fascinated by animation, the talented artists who animate the characters, and those who really appreciate a great dining experience as well as an awesome adventure!


My sister, Melanie, my parents and I were in WDW Dec 2-8 and we, again, scheduled the Lunch with An Artist. This time our lunch was hosted by Sam Ewing (cleanup artist) and Irma Cartaya-Torre (Color Artist).

We do know that during our lunch in December, the manager of the restaurant was working with another family who had been dining in the restaurant. The family noticed all the activity in and out of the Garden Room and asked the area manager what was going on. The area manager explained the Lunch with an Artist to the family and they in the process of booking this for their trip in January 2003.

It is still in the beginning stages and we were asked to give feedback. We, also, learned after the first lunch that you may not be hosted by character animator, but it is a key person in the production of the film. In October, we were hosted by 2 animators, but in December, we were hosted by other production personnel. Part of our feedback, was that we liked having 2 Cast Members together and we think it will go forward in that manner.