Let’s welcome back Bill Iadonisi with another fun Disney Food review! This time he covers the “Fork and Screen” experience in Downtown Disney’s AMC Theatre!
When the film “The Jazz Singer” premiered on October 6, 1927, it ushered in the beginning of the “talkies” and the demise of the silent movie era. It was stated that this was the most revolutionary and evolutionary advancement for the film industry. The movie-going public would never view films the same way again. But although this technology did change the way films were made, the movie going experience has changed very little since.
That was until the concept of combining the proverbial “dinner and a movie” was brought into being. The “Fork and Screen” theaters were born, and the way we go out to see a movie has been revolutionized.
The Fork and screen made its debut here in downtown Disney on May 16, 2011. When I first heard about this, I was a bit skeptical. After all, I thought “where in a movie theater could you possibly eat and be comfortable?” There was no room to put the food, and you would be bumping elbows with everyone else.
But AMC had totally re-designed select theaters into what amounts to a restaurant/theater/pub combination. Patrons sit in comfy leather lounge chairs with a large table in front of them. You can order food and drinks from a menu, all while viewing the latest movie releases in living room comfort.
The Fork and Dine entrance of the AMC’s 24 in Downtown Disney is located on the East side of the theaters, right next to Planet Hollywood. Here you enter a spacious lobby, which includes a bright, cheerful lounge named “MacGuffins” — a term that was coined by famous filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. On the right are the kiosks for tickets.
In the center of the lobby, you’ll find large colorful chairs surrounding small bistro tables. Along the walls you’ll find comfortable love seats with tables in front of them. This is more reminiscent of a high-end nightclub than a movie lobby.
After you purchase your movie ticket, you can now choose the seat you want. From a diagram of the seats, you pick your row and seat position. Another wonderful plus is that if you go online to www.amctheaters.com you can pre-purchase your tickets and even pick your seat out, so when you arrive at the theater, you are all set to go. It’s like a Disney FastPass!
AMC recommends that you arrive about a half hour early so you can order your food before the movie starts. For folks who like to come early, you can sit in the lounge and have drinks or an appetizer while waiting for your movie.
Once you enter the theater, your server will show you to your seat, where you can look over the menu and make your selections. The ideal part about the movie theater is that it seats a limited amount of guests inside. Some theaters have a combination of four rows and two rows, and some theaters have only seating for four across, so the maximum number of guests in any theater is 150. This makes the experience more intimate and relaxing.
One more note: the Fork and Screen is geared more toward a mature audience. However, 18 years and younger accompanied by an adult can still enjoy this experience.
AMC’s Fork and screen first debuted in 2008 in Buckhead, Georgia. There are also theaters in New Jersey, Texas, Phoenix, and Kansas City. The menus are the same in all of the theaters, and were designed by corporate chef Jason Henderson. The food is robust roadhouse fare, similar to Chili’s or Outback Steakhouse.
The menu is quite extensive, and the portions are large. In fact, many of the appetizers can be shared. This is roadhouse, rib-sticking fare — food that is robust, easy to eat, and tasty is what you’ll find here. From appetizers like jumbo Buffalo wings to Crab Rangoon dip, assorted burgers, fish, several varieties of pizza, salads and chicken, there is something for everyone here.
Joining me for dinner and a movie was my wife, Donna, and good friend John. We arrived approximately half an hour before the movie, purchased our tickets, and sat down. The wait staff at AMC is efficient and courteous. We ordered our beverages and started going over the menu.
Donna and I decided on the Wings and Things sampler ($12.99). There is enough food on this plate to serve two or three, so we all had a chance to sample it. It consisted of spicy Buffalo wings, onion rings, cheese sticks, house-made potato chips with marinara sauce, ketchup and blue cheese for dipping. The food was flavorful, hot, and with just the right amount of crispiness.
I ordered the chicken Caesar salad ($10.99). This nice sized salad had grilled all natural chicken breast over a bed of crisp, fresh romaine lettuce. To top it off, there was house-made Caesar dressing and fresh grated Parmesan cheese. The lettuce was crisp, and the chicken moist and meaty. I was very satisfied with my selection.
John decided on the chicken quesadillas ($9.99). This plate consisted of nine plump quesadillas wrapped in a soft, fresh flour tortilla. There was an ample amount of chicken and cheese stuffed in the quesadillas and John could not even finish his meal!
My wife Donna chose the Chipotle Chicken with Bacon ($9.99). Grilled chicken, cheddar jack cheese, and bacon are sandwiched between a golden flatbread covered with smoky chipotle sauce. This is all served with a container of chipotle style mayonnaise. The flatbread sandwiches are served with house made potato chips or your choice of classic cut fries ($.99), or Parmesan fries or onion loops ($1.99).
All in all, we were very satisfied with our selections. The food was hot and fresh, and the portions more than enough to satisfy the average eater.
Since my wife and I have experienced the Fork and Screen several times before, I can report that other items on the menu are consistent in quality and taste, as reported here. If there was one negative aspect of the experience, I thought that some of the beverages were somewhat pricey.
The atmosphere at the Fork and Screen is more of a high-end restaurant then a theater. Even as the theater became busier, you never got that crowded feeling. To us, that means that the folks here at AMC hit on the right formula and have made going to the movies a whole new experience.
What about value? A night at the movies plus dinner at the AMC Fork and Screen will set you back, depending on what you order and how much you drink, an average of $45-$55 for two. But in the bigger picture, a meal at a nice restaurant plus the movie will cost about the same. Here at the Fork and Screen you can do both, which in the long run will save you money.
The convenience and immediacy of seeing a movie while dining makes for an enjoyable night out! Since our first experience at the Fork and Screen, my wife and I find ourselves scouring the movie times again, looking forward to dinner and a movie. This time we’ll combine the experience in one place.
The AMC Theater does not offer any Disney Discounts. Keep in mind that there are only select films that are on the Fork and Screen’s menu, so make sure you check the ShowTime guide to see which movies can be selected.
You can also just walk in the lobby and have lunch or dinner, or enjoy a drink if you choose; you do not have to see a movie. And remember, this new concept is catching on fast; the theater is very crowded on the weekend, so get there very early or order on-line.
The Fork and Screen concept is the best innovation since the “Talkies,” and judging from the crowds at the theater, I’m sure it will only become more popular.
Have you experienced a Fork and Screen type of dining experience? Share your tips with us in the comments below!