Dining in Disneyland columnist Heather Sievers has an awesome review of a Disney food location that many of us haven’t seen…
When most people hear the word Disney, they don’t think of Hollywood. However, located right across the street from Grauman’s (aka Mann’s) Chinese Theatre, there is a very fun place that many Disney fans may have not had a chance to visit.
Disney’s Soda Fountain & Studio Store is conveniently connected to their theatre, The El Capitan, which is one of Hollywood’s oldest theatres. It debuted in 1926 and was known as “Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama.” In 1989, The Walt Disney Company partnered with Pacific Theatres to restore the venue to its original lavish condition. In 1991, it reopened to the public premiering Disney’s “The Rocketeer.” Ever since, The El Capitan has been running Disney movies, special events and world premieres. The Soda Fountain has only been around for approximately 5 years, and I’m sure it’s there to stay.
On our recent trip to see a special showing of The Little Mermaid, we visited the Soda Fountain for some pre-movie treats. We went with a rather large group, so it was nice that I was able to get photos of many different menu items. Disney’s Soda Fountain also serves food, but really, it’s the old fashioned yumminess that you should go for.
When you walk up to the Soda Fountain, the first thing you will notice is Disneyland “star” on the walk of fame. You step right over it to enter the magic. Normally there is a wait; unfortunately they do not take reservations. On this particular day it was just 15 minutes; not too bad.
Since the Soda Fountain is also a Disney Studio Store, it’s very easy to kill your wait time with some fun shopping as they have many items that are not available elsewhere. I did notice that the most popular items were their limited edition trading pins which they keep right on the counter at the register. The store is definitely a smaller version of a Disney Store, but they do have a pretty good collection of movies, merchandise, and of course lots of fun food related items.
The decor is split into two sections, the right half looks much like a Disney Store/Candy Palace and the left side features an old fashioned soda counter vibe. The walls are adorned with Disney Memorabilia like signed items from movies and shows (think Hard Rock Cafe, but Disney), and there are many autographed photos of celebs dining at the Soda Fountain. There is also a “cupcake counter” that sells to go items, including everyone’s favorite mouse-eared treat, The Mickey Bar!
There are two seating options at the Soda Fountain, sit down table service, and a counter where you can seat yourself if there are available stools. Since we had such a large party with us, we sort of spread out across the restaurant — some at tables, some at the counter. My family sat at the counter, which I think is the best spot as we got to watch the cast members make a little bit of everything. The first thing we ordered was a grilled cheese sandwich to share. It was very tasty, simple, nothing fancy, which is what made it so perfect. Cheddar on white bread served with potato chips and a dill pickle, reminding us of something we’d eaten as children.
After the sandwich, we all ordered sundaes. My husband and I shared the Black and White, which was a layered sundae featuring a layer of vanilla ice cream topped with a layer of homemade hot fudge, followed by a scoop of chocolate ice cream topped with whipped marshmallow, A-MA-ZING! My boys both went with one-topping sundaes. One chose sprinkles (Mickey Sprinkles!) and the other went with Reese’s Pieces.
A friend of ours ordered an old fashioned root beer float, and honestly it looked like something out of a commercial. A frosty mug with a scoop of vanilla placed atop the rim, who even makes them like this anymore? Perfection on the preparation of that beauty.
My nieces also ordered one-topping sundaes; one went for gummy bears, the other M & M’s. They sat at a table, so an adorably dressed cast member walked out their sundaes and put some seriously big smiles on their faces.
The Soda Fountain also features Shakes & Floats, Soda & Phosphates (syrup with sparkling soda & ice), Freezes, Cones, Frozen Bananas, Banana Splits, and ice cream sandwiches made from homemade chocolate chip cookies. With several topping options, your choices are pretty much endless. Sometime, I’d like to go back for Mickey’s Masterpiece: 8 scoops of ice cream smothered with hot fudge, caramel and marshmallow topped with nuts and swirls of whipped cream all served in a Sorcerer’s Apprentice dish for $29.95. Who’s in?
Now, because I knew I’d be sharing this here on the Disney Food Blog, I spent some time walking around taking lots of photos. One of the cast members thought I was odd when I snapped one of him, so then he posed while emptying the excess juice from his giant jar of maraschino cherries. He then proceeded to say, “You’d better get that right up on Facebook!” I love a cast member with a good sense of humor…
I also went up to a couple who had this in front of them. It was so pretty, I asked it I could take a photo of it! It’s called the “Pin Trader Sundae” and it came with a cute limited edition pin. I think it was Tigger holding a large ice cream cone — can’t remember which character, but I know it was something holding a mega scooped cone! Another flawless creation.
The Soda Fountain also features a great “Just for Kids” menu with cleverly named items, all priced at $5.95. They offer Mickey’s Breakfast, which includes Mickey Waffles; The Mouse Trap: a Mickey shaped grilled cheese sandwich; Minnie’s Favorite: PB & J Mickey shaped sandwich; Pluto’s Pup: a kid sized hot dog; and The Lady and The Tramp special, which is, you guessed it: Spaghetti! Really cute.
As a side note, I’d like to point out that Disney’s Soda Fountain serves customized ice cream prepared by Dewar’s, a 4th generation, family-owned ice creamery in Bakersfield, CA, that’s been around since 1909. I’ve been there too, an amazing little place. Old fashioned and delicious, it’s won several awards and has been featured on many television programs as well.
The next time you’re in So Cal, consider a little trip to Holly-Wierd, not for the crazies on the Boulevard, but for the cuteness of Disney’s Soda Fountain. While you’re there, make it a date with a movie at the El Capitan. They often have fun surprises along with their movies. I mean, where else does the “real” Ariel rise from the stage to introduce her own movie?