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Review: ABC Commissary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I have a confession to make: I’m not in love with the ABC Commissary, and I haven’t been for a while now. So when I’m on the Backlot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I’m looking for a bite, I tend to head over to Backlot Express.

I also find the general atmosphere here kinda boring, which is clearly a sign of superior themeing, since it’s supposed to be…basically…someone’s work cafeteria, right? :-)

Well, armed with an enthusiastic menu recommendation from my friend Matt Hochberg of Studios Central, I headed over there on a recent trip to see if I’d find anything I liked.

Atmosphere

As you approach the ABC Commissary, you really do feel like you’ve stumbled onto a block of buildings occupied by the people who run this “studio.”

ABC Commissary - Outside View

A palm tree promenade (that’s admittedly kind of cool) and marble flooring ushers you into the restaurant.

Palm Trees Line the Entrance

The walkway is also lined with these glass partitions etched with the ABC logo and interspersed with memorabilia from the network’s shows.

Glass Partitions Give a Good View of the Seating Area

Props Megaphone from ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"

If you look hard enough, you might just see an autograph of one of your favorite celebrities here.

Autographed Photos

There are also some wardrobe pieces from one of ABC’s hottest shows, Modern Family. Recognize any of these outfits?

Wardrobe from ABC's "Modern Family"

The seating area here is huge — practically cavernous — but since it’s just one big rectangular room split down the middle with the entrance walkway, this dining room doesn’t have the same attraction as the more themed counter service spots like Restaurantosaurus or Flame Tree Barbecue.

Maybe that’s why I find it so boring here — it just doesn’t seem as “Imagineered” as other great spots around the parks.

Air Conditioned Seating with Plenty of Natural Light

Since the themeing centers around television, you can watch snippets of shows and other interest pieces while you eat. Posters of ABC shows also line the walls.

Additional Seating with Views of the Televisions

Flatscreen Shows All ABC, All the Time!

There is also covered seating outside if you prefer it.

Outdoor Seating

While the set up for the counter service ordering area is pretty standard, the decor continues to feel almost posh. The art deco theme is carried through here as well, with marble floors, a collage that looks like a bronze sculpture, and the ABC logo and menu boards in shiny stainless.

Ordering Area

The menu boards are the changeable “TV” screen types, appropriately. They also feature pictures of the menu items, which is something we’re seeing more often these days.

Ordering Area - Another View

Eats

OK, so here’s what sometimes happens here at the DFB: I go to Disney World at eat at a restaurant I don’t really love so that I can get a review for the blog. The week after I return back home in Texas from the trip — and, of course, before I can get the review written up — the menu changes. And this is what happened here at ABC Commissary.

I know what you’re thinking: “DRAT! Absolute HOGWASH! How could they DO that to AJ?” But, not to worry, all is not lost. At least one of the items I tried is still on the menu. But let’s take a quick look at this new, updated menu before we dive into the reviews…

Thanks again to Matt Hochberg and StudiosCentral.Com, we have these pics (used with permission, of course).

NEW ABC Commissary Menu

NEW ABC Commissary Menu

What’s different, you ask? The seafood platter has added shrimp; the regular cheeseburger is now a 1/3 pound Angus cheeseburger; and the chicken curry has been traded in for the couscous, quinoa, and arugula salad.

The commissary’s “gourmet burger”, part of a foray into fancy fast food that Disney made last year, is the Angus Cheeseburger and Fried Shrimp. This was on the previous menu and has made the cut onto this menu as well.

While the Kids Picks of Chicken Nuggets and Cheeseburger are pretty standard, there is the “healthier for you” Turkey Sandwich option. You can also score one of those nifty Power Packs, which are especially great if you know your kiddos won’t finish the entire meal. Since everything in the Power Pack is individually wrapped, you can take the leftovers with you.

Kids Picks - Click to Enlarge

Beverages - Click to Enlarge

Head over to the condiment bar for your very-neatly-arranged standard sauces and plastic utensils.

Condiment Bar

Utensils and More Condiments

So having had my fill of burgers already during this trip, I tried the weird-looking, but decent sounding Chicken Blue Sandwich. I opted for Apple Slices on the side.

Chicken Blue with a Side of Apples

Served on a multi grain bun, this grilled chicken sandwich comes with a slice of Swiss cheese and a bleu cheese dressing that is thick and heavy on the bleu.

While it’s extremely messy to eat — wait…let me say that again: it’s EXTREMELY MESSY TO EAT — it was quite good! It may not look like much, but it was surprisingly delicious. Arm yourself with a serious amount of extra napkins and you’ll be fine.

Chicken Blue - Under the Bun

Next, I decided to take Matt’s suggestion and opted for the no-longer-on-the-menu (gah!) Chicken Curry. I figure I’ll tell you about it just in case you see it pop up on any other counter service menus in the future. ;-)

It was a fairly straightforward dish: half curry, half rice, with a little cilantro (which went directly onto the side of the tray.)

Chicken Curry

This was good. It had a very mild spice to it, so I don’t think it would be too spicy for children or others who might not like a lot of heat. If you’re a big fan of curry, though, this probably won’t knock your socks off.

We skipped dessert here; nothing looked super appetizing. Did I miss the mark? Weigh in below in the comments if that Strawberry Parfait or Chocolate Mousse are hidden gems!

Overall

I have to say, ABC Commissary was not as bad as I expected it to be, and that’s almost good, right? Before this visit, I had only been there a couple of times, and I was not impressed. So it took me a while to get back.

But I’m glad I headed over there on this visit. While the surroundings aren’t terribly interesting, this is still a great place to stop in, spread out, and cool off if you happen to be at the Studios. I would still recommend Backlot Express or Studio Catering Co. over ABC Commissary, but if you need a break and you’re walking by — make it happen.

Which dish sends you to ABC Commissary? Let us know in the comments!

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29 Comments

  1. shireen herro says:

    AJ- I’m bummed that the chicken curry is off the menu! Being 50% indian myself, I crave a little spice during my Disney vacations, and my husband and I always make it a point to have a quick lunch there. It’s not like home cooked curry(truly, nothing is), but it does the trick for me. I hope they bring it back or bring it to another counter service venue. I may have to start bringing my own!! lol

  2. Katie says:

    The asian salad that they had was pretty good, im with you AJ I would usually pass this one up for something better. I will have to try some of the new menu options next time i am there

  3. Eric says:

    Thanks for the review. It looks like I can still avoid it – not writing your review is wrong, I just don’t like the options.

  4. John Grigas says:

    RIP Chicken Curry. It was my favorite counter service entree at any Disney Park! (Because corn dogs don’t count.)

  5. Alan says:

    It’s funny but of the hundreds of meals I’ve had at WDW, I have never eaten at or even been inside the Commissary. To be honest, I had to look on a map of the Hollywood Studios to place it. Perhaps it is because we are always heading to Mama Melrose (an old fave) when we are in that section of the park. Looking at the menu doesn’t make me want to change any of that as the food doesn’t seem to be any thing special or different. I do find the “palm court” and art deco look to be interesting, but not enough to entice me to eat there. I see no mention of breakfast and that might be a reason to stop here.

  6. Lisa says:

    It will take a lot to get me into this place again. There doesn’t seem to be any consistency in the quality of the meals and it’s LOUD. It is a nice place to get out of the heat!

  7. Molly says:

    I actually like the Commissary because it’s usually a bit more quiet there. The Asian Salad there is one of the better salads that I’ve had at the parks.

  8. Victoria says:

    We ate here on our honeymoon a few years ago and were not impressed at all. I don’t remember what we ate. I just remember we didn’t like it and we haven’t eaten there since on our trips. :(

  9. Dana says:

    Was not impressed at all with the Commissary. We ate there because my husband wasn’t feeling well, and we were hoping that some food would boost his blood sugar. The Commissary was the closest place, so we went there. He did feel better after eating, but he wasn’t really thrilled with the food. And I got food poisoning. So never again. We’ll go to Staring Rolls or the Backlot Express if we’re doing a counter meal.

  10. Phil P says:

    We have been there exactly once- it was quiet, which can be nice if things have been hectic. The choices were not that impressive and the food not all that great. It very much lived up to its reputation as a mediocre counter service location.

    IMO, there’s much better choices within very short walks (as others point out, Studio Catering Co. and Backlot Express are much preferable to ABC Commissary).

  11. Deb T says:

    We agree with pretty much everyone else. We have eaten there a couple times. Once a really long time ago. Last time (about a year ago) it was because the Backlot Express was closed and we just had to get something to eat. I think the menu has some different items now. But our gang would agree – it’s a last resort type choice! Not that the food was bad, just not good enough to make this restaurant a top choice!

  12. That new quinoa salad sounds pretty good!

  13. TammiQ says:

    My husband was not overly impressed with the burger fare here but I have to say that the Asian Salad is absolutely delicious. I’m a very picky eater, especially at Hollywood Studios, but this is one of the better menu items in the park, with the exception of maybe the grilled veggie sandwich at Backlot Express.

    One nice touch: my husband and I stopped in to eat right when ABC Commissary opened for the day. There was a small crowd of people waiting for the place to open and when the doors unlocked the cast members lined the entryway and gave everyone a round of applause as we walked in like we were walking down a red carpet. It was hilarious and fun. Some of the cast members had those huge Mickey hands on and were high-fiving the guests. The cast members were really into it and they were super fun and friendly.

    The food may have not have been that memorable (for my husband at least) but the cast member experience was.

  14. Elaine says:

    I know this will sound crazy but I can never find anything good to eat at HS. I don’t like any of the dine-in restaurants because they are too pricey for me and I am a very plain eater – I don’t need or like anything fancy. Even the counter service at HS leaves much to be desired. I always make sure I eat a huge breakfast that morning so I can just kind of snack my through until we can leave the park and have dinner elsewhere. Even the menu changes don’t make this sound any better.

  15. No more chicken curry?!?! That makes me sad. I liked it because it was a unique menu item that you can’t find anywhere else. I’ve eaten at the Commissary pretty often, but (like you) have lately been going to Backlot Express. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  16. Sandra says:

    Although we seem to gravitate to Backlot Express for most DHS meals, we have eaten at the ABC Commissary and were actually pleased with it. The atmosphere can be quite restful when it is hot and crowded outside. The dessert items are limited, but we did enjoy the chocolate mousse and even the then sugar-free strawberry dessert. However, they did away with the Cuban sandwich my husband loved–and he hates Angus, so it’s not a really good substitute. I’m sorry they don’t take advantage of the setting and have sandwiches named after stars, for example, or maybe something more Californian to go with the setting, like a fish taco or classic California burger (lettuce, tomato, mayo–very exotic stuff in the 60′s). So we mostly have given this a pass lately, and enjoy our afternoon break at Writers Stop instead.

  17. Colette says:

    I like the ABC Commissary! Every trip I get fish and chips from here and usually sit in the same place lol

  18. Kelly says:

    We stopped at the ABC Comissary last weekend. I had the chicken blue and you had far more blue cheese than I got! The chicken was decent, but I was disappointed about the lack of blue cheese flavor. I mean, if you want to call it a chicken BLUE sandwich, I should taste two things: chicken and blue cheese. So I was disappointed.

    In fairness, I do like stinky cheeses. A lot.

  19. Galloping Gourmand says:

    I have eaten here many times, simply because its always right there when my party decides to eat. The Asian salad isnprobrobly the best thing on the meu, but it wont win any awards. its just your standard Asian salad. The chicke bleu was fine after I scraped off some of the dressing. I’m not sure why they went Angus here because the patties I’ve had are either dry or “uncleared grill” greasy. Generally this is an average to below average place that doesn’t rise aboce the “theme park food label.

  20. Jym says:

    “Not as bad as I expected it to be”. I can quote that on my site, AJ? ;)

  21. Diane says:

    Worst meal we had in the entire World. And no, the desserts are not a hidden gem. Yuck.

  22. Lici says:

    We ate here last week and I don’t know if we were extremely hungry but we were all pleased with our meal. I guess running around DHS all day might do that to you! I had the angus cheesburger with the shrimp and my husband had the asian salad.

  23. Queila says:

    We have learned to order our food at Starring Rolls and bring it to ABC to enjoy it in the spacious and air conditioned eating area. Never felt tempted to order the food there though.

    My husband and I were actually talking about it on our last trip. The restaurant is so big and has so much potential. If only they would work on the menu….

    Q

  24. Liz says:

    I’m a huge fan of the ABC, and make sure to go there at least once during my trips. My fave is the Asian salad and the Chocolate Mousse, you should give it a try next time!

  25. Andrea says:

    Deeelish!!! I had the new QUINOA COUSCOUS ARUGULA SALAD with SALMON! It was great and fresh/healthy tasting… A quick service breath of fresh air! Try it! My daughter liked her kids meal turkey sandwich a lot (on PepFarm Goldfish wheat flatbread with honey mustard from the condiment bar- bonus!)… As for the 3 boys, they aren’t picky, so I can’t comment on their selections. And I was so happy with my salad I didn’t notice or care about the atmosphere :)

  26. Amy says:

    The atmosphere was chaotic, but the Quinoa Couscous Arugula Salad with salmon was off the hook! My mom had the Asian salad and loved it. Kids loved the cordon bleus and the rest ordered standard fare but also loved it. I need the recipe for this and the quinoa salad from Tamu Tamu in the Animal Kingdom.

  27. Marcos Valenca says:

    I, for one, love the atmosphere of the ABC Commissary. The art deco architecture is beautiful, you can be indoors or outdoors, the cast members who tended to us were great and you can get a R2D2 power pack (true in 2013).

  28. Michael R says:

    Family and I ate there 6/20/2014 for dinner. Sorry to say it was the most disappointing meal we had. I find it difficult to believe that ABC could mess up cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches when other places serve the same menu items without any issues. Lets start with the burger, half of the bottom bun was rock hard and the meat patty was a brownish grey color. The Chicken sandwich was orderd by my wife and she said that the chicken had the taste and texture of rubber. This was the first and last time we go to ABC for a meal.

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