Photo Tour: Streets of America “Restaurants” in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Typically when we’re talking about Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s because we’re reviewing some eats in that area of the park, including Pizza Planet, Mama Melrose’s, Studio Catering Co., High Octane Refreshments, and our beloved Writer’s Stop.

Writer's Stop

Writer’s Stop

But today we’re going to take a stroll around this part of the park that doesn’t typically get a whole lot of attention (unless it’s the holiday season when The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights takes over).

Many people pass through this area of false fronts and forced perspective representing street sets for New York and San Francisco on the way to or from the Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show. But I have always loved this section of the Studios as a great place to wander around and take in loads of those famous Disney details.

Streets of America

Streets of America

Streets of America

Streets of America

Streets of America

Streets of America

Among the shops and various business ventures lining these city streets, you’ll notice more than a couple of restaurants and food stops — lots of mom-and-pop-style operations that look like places locals would frequent if these settings were, in fact, real.

For instance, when you’re wandering down New York street, you just gotta love the sign that says it all… by saying next to nothing: the “Eat” sign.

"Eat"

“Eat”

I don’t care what they’re serving. I’d kinda like to try it.

"Eat"

“Eat”

And I can’t be the only person who wishes the Village Pizza Parlor was real every single time I walk past.

Village Pizza Parlor

Village Pizza Parlor

Village Pizza Parlor

Village Pizza Parlor

Calzones and Pie by the Slice! And you have to respect a place that boasts “Macaroni” on the window.

Village Pizza Parlor

Village Pizza Parlor

Looks to me like a place that could rival Via Napoli for Best Pizza in Disney World… if it actually existed, that is ;).

If you look up (and, as they say, you should always [Read more…]

Review: Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We’re back at the Backlot Express!

And it’s a good time to visit, since Backlot Express is really THE place to go in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to get that “backlot” feel, especially since The Studio Backlot Tour attraction closed down last September.

It’s also a good time solely because it’s always a good time to visit Backlot Express. With its fantastically-done themeing, this movie production warehouse that’s actually an eatery serves up Quick Service favorites (with a few unique items thrown in), and it’s long been just about my favorite Counter Service restaurant in Hollywood Studios. Of course, now you’ll find part of it decorated for the Rebel Hangar Star Wars Lounge Experience for Star Wars Weekends, but my most recent visit took place just a couple weeks prior to the temporary redecoration.

It’s been too long, I’d say… so let’s head back inside Backlot Express!

Atmosphere

Yes, Backlot Express is a Counter Service stop, so the goal —aside from getting fed ;) — is to be in and out and get back to the attractions. In fact, that was even more of the goal with the Express Order test. But if you have a little extra time, I’d really encourage you to spend some of it exploring the terrific details here.

This “Warehouse of Good Eating” (its slogan is on the main entrance sign), in story, serves as a warehouse for the Studios, storing all manner of movie production items from paints and props to storyboards and stunt gear.

Backlot Express sign and "warehouse" entrance

Backlot Express sign and “warehouse” entrance

The sculpture area is super cool, with the scupltures all in white awaiting their paint.

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculptures

Sculptures

Sculpture

Sculpture

And you can spot pops of color here and there, too.

Painted sculpture

Painted sculpture

Speaking of paints… you’ll see cans upon cans of the stuff, in both indoor and outdoor seating areas.

Paint cans

Paint cans

Paint cans in outdoor seating

Paint cans in outdoor seating

Though you could choose to eat in the stunt crew area.

Stunt diagram

Stunt diagram

But I can’t say that I have, since I find the stunt dummies sitting above –frankly — a little creepy.

Stunt dummies

Stunt dummies

Stunt dummy

Stunt dummy

Some of my favorite details, though, are reminders that you’ve walked into a functioning, working warehouse complete with safety-in-the-workplace and supply conservation signs.

Save Money sign

Save Money sign

Safety Quiz

Safety Quiz

There is even the ol’ office bulletin board for the Paint Department, displaying inter-team memos as well as [Read more…]

Review: Star Wars Specialty Beverages in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Umm… have we mentioned that there is a wee little event by the name of Star Wars Weekends going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?!

Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars Weekends

In case you missed the memo ;), Star Wars Weekends is running Fridays through Sundays through June 14th. And as in previous years, temporary pop up bars appear for the weekends all around the park offering specialty cocktails just for the occasion. Last year, guests were asked to Choose Their Side by choosing their beverage: The Force or The Dark Side. This year, though, you get to Choose your PLANET!

The Mustafar and The Tatooine

The Mustafar and The Tatooine

The Endor and The Alderaan

The Endor and The Alderaan

There are four different drinks available, and each bar features two of the four. For instance, in the seating area of Starring Rolls Cafe, I happened upon this pop up bar featuring The Mustafar and The Tatooine.

Popup Bar near Starring Rolls

Popup Bar near Starring Rolls

The pop up bar near the Hollywood Studios Main Stage, however, was serving The Endor and The Alderaan.

Pop-up Bar near Min & Bill's

Pop-up Bar near Min & Bill’s

For a point of location reference, you can spy a few of the umbrella-topped tables from Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner in the background for this bar, but really you can’t walk very far without happening upon a pop-up in just about every section of the park.

Now, while the drinks differ, there is something special about the beverages that is similar, no matter which bar you visit, and that is the souvenir glow cubes corresponding to specific beverages. With The Tatooine and The Endor, you receive a Millennium Falcon glow cube, while The Mustafar and The Alderaan feature the Death Star.

Death Star Glow Cube in The Alderaan

Death Star Glow Cube in The Alderaan

Last year the glow cubes were a major part of the story, too. First, because they’re awesome. Second, they were so popular that they ran out almost immediately. If I understood correctly, many were gone as early as the second weekend of the event! Here’s hoping the inventory was greatly amped up this year in anticipation of their popularity.

If you choose your drink based on a glow cube, you’re [Read more…]

Guest Review: Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast at Walt Disney World

Are you ready for breakfast in a galaxy far, far away? 

Great! Then please join us in welcoming one of  my good friends, guest author Daniel Staten (@danielstaten on Instagram) with a review of the STAR WARS Dine-In Galactic Breakfast, which has returned for a second run at Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant this year through June 14th. While the other returning Star Wars character dining experience, the Jedi Mickey STAR WARS Dine at Hollywood and Vine, features Disney characters in full Star Wars regalia, the Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast offers guests the chance to start the day with Star Wars characters from the films… and this one’s all about the Dark Side

Take it it away, Daniel! And May the Force be with you!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is clearly undergoing some change. One thing that has been constant though, is a strong Star Wars presence in the park.

AT-AT outside of Star Tours attraction

AT-AT outside of Star Tours attraction

Revenge of the Sith t-shirt

Revenge of the 5th t-shirt

Darth Vader Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

Darth Vader Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

Earlier in May, I dined with my family at the Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast. There were plenty of photo ops, nostalgic clips, and the Force was strong with the food!

Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast

Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast

Booking the Advance Dining Reservation for the breakfast turned out to be a fluke. I wasn’t looking for it specifically, but when a single 9:30 AM reservation appeared on the My Disney Experience website, I jumped at the chance!

The Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast is a lot like other signature character dining experiences in that it’s all-inclusive. For the price – we paid $49.99 – you get a breakfast “appetizer,” non-alcoholic drinks, an entree and a few selected extras.

Sci Fi Galactic Dine In Star Wars Breakfast DHS 3

Menu listing inclusions and selections

More on those later.

Atmosphere

On the morning of our breakfast, we arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the crowds were pretty light. We made our way back towards Star Tours and noticed the huge line for people to sign-up for the Jedi Training Academy! Standing in that line looks like it would take a lot of dedication, but to the young Jedis, it’s well worth it.

The Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast is hosted at the Sci-Fi Dine-In near the back of the park. Once we arrived, we checked in and had a seat to wait for our table to be ready. The restaurant was running about 15 minutes behind and I attribute that to people taking their time with the characters and soaking up the atmosphere! There was so much to see and people generally just enjoying their interactions. I don’t blame them and didn’t mind the additional wait.

Once our table was ready, the Cast Member announced that “The Staten Family is now joining the Empire,” and we were placed in a line to meet Darth Vader and Boba Fett. I tried to look as scared as I could and it didn’t take much! Darth Vader is super intimidating in person!

Meet and Greet with Darth Vader and Boba Fett

Meet and Greet with Darth Vader and Boba Fett

Character dining can be awkward for adults sometimes. All of that awkwardness went away almost immediately once we [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: May 20th, 2015

Sure, we may have said “So long” to the Flower and Garden Festival for this year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to look forward to at Walt Disney World! Springs moves to summer as Disney World gears up for the busy vacation season, otherwise known as the “Coolest Summer Ever”!

©Disney

©Disney

And since it’s a very special time of year for Star Wars fans in particular, why don’t we start our ‘round the World tour at Hollywood Studios to see What’s New!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Star Wars Weekends kicked off on May 15th!

Star Wars Weekends 2015

Star Wars Weekends 2015

The excitement! The pageantry!  The CUPCAKES! The Jabba the Hutt Cupcake has joined the Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes this year.

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

It can be found at counter service locations such as Starring Rolls, Backlot Express, The Trolley Car Cafe, and Tusken Fridge Raiders — the premiere Star Wars snack stop, located inside Darth’s Mall.

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

But cupcakes aren’t all that’s in store…

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Like last year, several temporary pop-up bars can be found all over the park for the weekend events.

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

However, they feature all-new drinks this year. Each bar serves two out of of four drinks: The Mustafar and The Tatooine, or The Endor and The Alderaan.

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

We’ll be taking a closer look at those beverages soon, but once again this year, it’s ALL about the souvenir glow cubes: drinks come with either a Millennium Falcon glow cube or your very own mini Death Star.

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

The Jedi Mickey Character Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast returned to Hollywood Studios earlier this month (on May the Fourth Be With You, naturally). But brand new to Star Wars Weekends this year is the Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge Experience, which has effectively converted half of Backlot Express into an abandoned spaceport in the Sullest system.

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Blue Milk!

Blue Milk!

You can read all about this special month-long dining event featuring small plates and specialty cocktails in our full review of the Rebel Hangar!

Believe it or not, though, it’s not all Star Wars at Hollywood Studios… we’ve got some regular ol’ menu changes at some favorite Table Service restaurants to report as well. Sci-Fi Dine-In has added the Sci-Fi Popcorn Treat to the appetizer selection. It’s popcorn soup (for watching those old movies, of course!) with buffalo popcorn chicken and celery sticks, drizzled with blue cheese dressing.

Sci-Fi Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In

New entrees include Grilled Marinated Salmon, while the Veggie Burger got a [Read more…]

Review: Jabba the Hutt Cupcake at Tusken Fridge Raiders at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Well, look who’s joined the Star Wars Weekends party… JABBA THE HUTT!!!

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Brand new this year, Jabba joins the Star Wars Character Cupcake line-up alongside the Darth Vader Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcake and the Yoda Chocolate Cupcake with Hazelnut Buttercream Icing. Jabba the Hutt and Yoda can be found at Starring Rolls, Trolley Car Cafe, Backlot Express, and Tusken Fridge Raiders.

Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes return this year

Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes return this year

The Darth Vader Cupcake is the only Star Wars Cupcake that can be found at ALL Hollywood Studios Counter Service locations.

So where, exactly, is Tusken Fridge Raiders? The premiere Star Wars snack stop for this year is tucked inside Watto’s Grotto inside of Darth’s Mall, the main merchandise location for Star Wars Weekends.

Darth's Mall is in the Streets of America

Darth’s Mall is in the Streets of America

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders menu

Tusken Fridge Raiders menu

All three cupcakes are available there (though you’ll find them a little cheaper in the Counter Service locations for $5.19), along with the four specialty Star Wars Weekends cocktails, which we’ll be checking out in a future post.

Tusken Fridge Raiders menu

Tusken Fridge Raiders menu

Cocktail mixes at Tusken Fridge Raiders

Cocktail mixes at Tusken Fridge Raiders

Incidentally, Tusken Fridge Raiders is THE home to [Read more…]

Review: Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Welcome to the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience!

Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience

Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience

In conjunction with Star Wars Weekends, an entire half of Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been completely transformed.

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Backlot Express transformed into Rebel Hangar

Backlot Express transformed into Rebel Hangar

From now through June 14th, instead of entering the standard theming of the movie production warehouse, guests will walk into a long-abandoned building that once served as a busy spaceport in the Sullust system.

The story of the Rebel Hangar

The story of the Rebel Hangar printed in the menu

From 4:00 – 9:00 pm daily throughout the run of the Hangar, weary galactic travelers now have the opportunity to take a moment to relax and enjoy Star Wars-themed food among the “discarded remnants” from over 100 planets.

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Our Advance Dining Reservation to hangout in the Hangar wasn’t until 8:50 pm — 10 minutes prior to the final seating. So I took some time during the day to check out the spot, arriving somewhere around 1:00 pm. That’s right — day guests coming in for the typical Counter Service menu at Backlot Express were able to enjoy much of the atmosphere, too!

Part of Backlot Express transformed

Part of Backlot Express transformed

Backlot Express transformed

Backlot Express transformed

I, for one, was taken aback by the transformation. I hadn’t realized anything more could be tucked into Backlot Express, already so well-themed for its purposes. But lo and behold…

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

It was a blast spotting ways in which the typical Backlot “props” were incorporated into the Hangar theme.

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

You can see where “decay” has settled into this space in the many years since it last served its original purpose as a spaceport.

Decaying spaceport

Decaying spaceport

"Discarded" helmet

“Discarded” helmet

It appears a graffiti artist has even taken advantage of the abandoned spot ;) .

Graffiti wall

Graffiti wall

Graffiti wall

Graffiti wall

Hidden Mickey

Hidden Mickey

Even the tabletops were [Read more…]

Three Ideas For an Unconventional Disney World Date Night

Call us romantics, but we think that Walt Disney World is a GREAT place for a date night!

Watch the Fireworks from the Polynesian Resort Beach!

Do You Love to Watch Magic Kingdom Fireworks From the Polynesian’s Beach During Your Disney Date Night? We Do!

But we like to take a very broad approach to date night here at Disney Food Blog. So we decided that it would be all kinds of funnnz to come up with some radical departures for how to spend your Day o’ Love. I mean sure, chocolate-dipped strawberries and Champagne are awesome, and a fancy meal is sure to impress. But more than anything, we just wanna have fun!

If you’re with us, check out our Top 3 Ideas for Your Unconventional Date Night, Disney World Style!

Swap a Fancy Meal for FastPasses

Fancy meal? Whatevs. Who wants to get dressed up and sit around for hours?? You’re at Disney — get out there and enjoy it!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Snuggle Up for a Ride on Disney’s Newest Attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!

Instead of dinner at a signature restaurant, skip straight to the fun, and schedule FastPasses for three of your favorite rides together (and make sure at least one of them is a dark ride. ;-) )

Spaceship Earth, How We Love You

Spaceship Earth, How We Lurve You

Getting hungry after all those adventures? Share your favorite savory snacks. The Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion would be perfect!

Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot's China Pavilion

Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion

Or split a Waffle Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in Magic Kingdom.

Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Magic Kingdom's Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Magic Kingdom’s Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

They’re definitely big enough to share!

Get the Kids Involved!

Spending more time together as a family always figures high on our list of priorities. And kiddos especially love some one on one time with Mom and Dad. So how about taking a different approach to your next evening out. Make a “date” with your littles!

One fun idea would be to split up for fun Mom/Son, Dad/Daughter “dates”. Go on separate dinner dates and let the kids choose the restaurants! ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk is a great choice for your budding baseball or soccer star!

ESPN Club (with a line to get in on Game Day!)

ESPN Club is a Great Place to Take Your Favorite Sports Fan!

But save room, because you can all meet up for some ice cream later and compare notes! How about sharing a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream four ways?? (Want more ice cream suggestions? Check our our Ice Cream Gallery!)

No Way Jose at Beaches and Cream

Split a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream!

Top off the evening with an outdoor movie at your resort before tucking in for pleasant dreams.

Play with Your Food

Have you always wanted to [Read more…]

News! “Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge Experience” Reservations Available NOW

UPDATE: Great news! Disney has opened online Advance Dining Reservations for Rebel Hangar for WEEKDAYS in addition to Star Wars Weekends, from May 15 through June 14th!

Star Wars Weekends begin at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 15th and WE. CAN’T. WAIT!

Especially now, since there’s a whole new dining hangout for all you Rebels out there coming to Echo Lake: the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience!

Here’s what we know: according to Disney, the Rebel Hangar was “once a known hangout of Rebel pilots, aliens, and smugglers.” Themeing of the atmosphere will be a major part of the experience, with abandoned spacecraft and remnants of vehicles framing the entry. But themeing of the FOOD seems to be just as much of a draw!

Among the items on the menu: some Fruit and Cheese Sabers

© Disney

© Disney

And Ensalada Naboo!

© Disney

© Disney

The Slider Sampler featuring “The Sith” barbecue-braised brisket and “The Jedi” barbecued pulled chicken features items for your inner Jedi or your Dark Side.

© Disney

© Disney

A lovely Trio of Thermal Detonators (aka spicy pork wings), anyone ;) ?

© Disney

© Disney

Check out the Pilot’s Pomme Frites with everyone’s favorite Wookie!

© Disney

© Disney

Chips and SITH!!! Can you even handle it?!?

© Disney

© Disney

I’m already loving The Dark Fried Chicken [Read more…]

News! Food Pre-order Test in Progress at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

It looks like the next phase of Disney dining technology testing is upon us!

Express Order screenshot

Express Order screenshot

Thanks to WDWMagic and OrlandoParkNews we learned that a limited-run test (from now until May 12) is currently in place for guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you have somehow indicated that you will be visiting Hollywood Studios via your My Disney Experience account (either by making a FastPass+ choice for attractions or a dining reservation for the park’s Table Service locations), you may receive an e-mail invite to participate in a test involving pre-ordering food items at Backlot Express Counter Service or Fantasmic! concession.

Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Selections

Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Selections

Express Order is the name of the free app that guests are invited to download in order to participate.

Express Order app Home Page

Express Order app Home Page

Upon opening the app, you’ll see two dining choices: Backlot Express or concession options for Fantasmic! Please note that Fantasmic! concession pre-ordering is only available prior to the start of the show each night.

Backlot Express and Fantasmic! options

Backlot Express and Fantasmic! options

Just swipe to the right for further choices and instructions. For instance, with Backlot Express, you’ll see that you can choose to [Read more…]