Review: Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

In my opinion, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has always been hit or miss.

But on my last two visits, it was exceptional. I couldn’t wait to re-visit another year later and see if that was still the case. And, I gotta say, this place is still a hidden gem. I would, in all honestly, choose this restaurant over several signature restaurants on Disney property right now. Let’s take a look at the details.

Atmosphere

When we arrived for a late night advance dining reservation during an Extra Magic Hours night, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano was teeming with hungry guests. You get a sense of Mama’s random story before you ever enter the doors. The Mona Lisa, wearing shades, in front of the Hollywood Sign? Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Outside Wall

Outside Wall as You Approach Mama’s

The flimsy “backstory” unfolds: Mama was once an aspiring actress who began to cook her traditional dishes for friends while she was trying to become a star. Her dreams of acting fame may have faded, but she found another route into the hearts of the masses — her cooking. And Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano was born.

Entrance

Entrance to Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Even if the backstory still doesn’t make any sense to me after all this time, that doesn’t mean the restaurant isn’t kind of fun to look around. It’s a mix of old world meets Hollywood…and every year that goes by means Mama’s decor becomes even more antiquated.

One of my favorite touches is the wall-o-1980s-stars. These headshots crack me up! It’s like a who’s who of the year the Studios opened. (I always have to scout out Mary Fran.)

Podium and Entrance from the Waiting Area

Podium and Entrance from the Waiting Area

Other decor elements feature kitschy goodies from Mama’s collection.

In Vino Veritas!

In Vino Veritas!

More chances to look for your favorite late 20th century actors await you at the restroom entrance. And check out this guy we saw above the doorway…

Celebrity Pictures Outside the Restrooms

Celebrity Pictures Outside the Restrooms

These little Olafs-on-a-stick are part of the Frozen promotion in Hollywood Studios! Guess someone thought he’d be right at home here on a gondola?

Olaf -- This Guy is Everywhere

Olaf — This Guy is Everywhere

Walk through the large arch and past the kitchen, and the restaurant opens before you. Be sure to peek at the pizza oven as you walk by!

Show Kitchen

Show Kitchen

Once you’re in the dining area, pause to take a look around. The walls are covered with some fun stuff, including tons of albums. That’s right, kids — [Read more…]

Review: Banana Parfait and Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Custard at Hollywood Studios

If you’ve visited any Quick Service restaurants in Hollywood Studios, you’ve likely encountered a few standard dessert options, in addition to some pretty spectacular cupcakes.

Regular options include Chocolate Mousse and No-Sugar-Added Strawberry Parfait, or Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Custard and Banana Parfait. These are often part of the dessert options to include with your Quick Service Meal on the Disney Dining Plan (and, of course, can be purchased on their own as well).

I stopped by Studio Catering Co. where the desserts include the Banana Parfait and Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Custard. You can also find these at Rosie’s All-American Cafe, Catalina Eddie’s, and Fairfax Fare. Let’s dig in so you can decide how you’d most prefer to use that dessert option! (Note that these are also available at Fairfax Fare!)

Studios Catering Co.

Studio Catering Co.

Studios Catering Co.

Studio Catering Co.

Before placing my order, I couldn’t help but admire the cheerful chalk art on the concrete floor.

Chalk art!

Chalk art!

Chalk art!

Chalk art!

As you can see, both the Banana Parfait and the Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Custard are part of the “in-a-glass” series of snacks.

Banana Parfait and Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Custard

Banana Parfait and Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Custard

That’s not an official series, by the way… that’s just what I’m calling it ;) . You may be familiar with the Cheesecake in a Glass over at Animal Kingdom.

The Banana Parfait is a banana pudding over a [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Fun Food at 50s Prime Time Cafe

We’re back with another fun edition of Disney Food Pics of the Week!

We never pass up a chance to visit a classic — 50s Prime Time Cafe!

You’ll find this throwback spot in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And a meal will send your spiraling back in time to the 1950s. Enjoy lunch or dinner from the comfort of formica tables and vinyl chairs — all while you watch TV and your “cousins” bring you the best home cooked-style meals!

And judging from a trip through Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza — our Flickr page — you guys love it, too!

Today we’re sharing some of our favorite photos that you’ve captured of meals at this kitschy spot. Let’s take a look!

Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken

Photographer: Travelhyper

Who can resist good fried chicken? Well, Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken is some of the best we’ve had at Disney. Check out this gorgeous snap!

Disney Food Pics of the Week Fried Chicken

Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken is the Tops!

Finish Your Green Beans…Or Else!

Photographer: Nancy RK

The antics of the staff — your “cousins” — at 50s Prime Time Cafe are the stuff of Disney legends. You had better know the color of the soap if you use the restroom (FYI, it wasn’t blue anymore on my last visit!), and for heaven’s sake, keep your elbows off the table! And some scary things can happen if you don’t eat all your veggies…

Disney Food Pics of the Week Green Beans

I Would Eat My Green Beans If I Were You . . .

(My friend once had our Cousin Tommy take her fork and FEED HER the last three green beans on her plate.)

50s Boston Cream Parfait

Photographer: Mandy Jansen

Desserts at 50s Prime Time carry on the comfort food, retro vibe. We love Dad’s Sundae with all of its crazy toppings, and the [Read more…]

Friday Happy Hour: Winter Berry Margarita at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post

UPDATE: Please note that Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post — intended as a temporary location — is now closed. 

Even though Frozen Summer Fun has officially come to an end at Hollywood Studios, that doesn’t mean the fun has ended altogether!

A few elements of the special event that ran throughout the summer remain, including For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, and a new home for Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Frozen Snowground.

Sign to Wandering Oaken's Trading Post

Sign to Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post

Since there is Frozen food to be had there, we couldn’t resist stopping by its new spot across the street from Studio Catering Co.

Wandering Oaken's Trading Post

Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post

Entrance into the Snowground

Entrance into the Snowground

Food isn’t the only thing you’ll find at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post. It still remains THE place to build your own snowman in Central Florida.

"Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?"

“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?”

Snowman!

Snowman!

And there may be… oh, a little bit of Frozen merchandise available for purchase ;) .

Frozen Merchandise

Frozen Merchandise

Elsa and Anna dolls

Young Elsa and Anna dolls

Olaf plush

Olaf plush

But we’re here to check out the Sweet Treat Bar, tucked in the corner next to the Snowground. It maintains the same cozy, lodge feel that it did over the summer. They even brought out the snowflake decorated trash cans in honor of the wintry occasion.

Sweet Treat Bar

Sweet Treat Bar

And the menu, for the most part, remains the same as well — with a few [Read more…]

New Frozen Holiday Premium Package at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Just in time for the holidays, Disney World debuts a yet another new seasonal experience — Disney’s Hollywood Studios Frozen Holiday Premium Package!

Elsa and Anna Letting It Go!

Elsa and Anna Letting It Go!

For those of you who love desserts, the Osborne lights, Anna and Elsa, and souvenirs, read on…

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Frozen Holiday Premium Package

This brand new VIP package includes reserved viewing in the Premiere Theater for the “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration,” which could come in very handy during those packed holiday days at the parks.

Speaking of crowds, this package provides a reserved location (at the end of Streets of America) for the magical Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

Osborne Lights!

Osborne Lights!

You’ll also get to splurge on “free with the price of the ticket” specialty alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic beverages, and Frozen-themed desserts.

As for souvenirs, you’ll receive a unique [Read more…]

Grand Launch! 2014 DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Snacks E-Book

We’re thrilled to announce that the 2014 DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Snacks e-Book is now available!

And in honor of our grand launch, you can get the new Guide for $3 off the regular purchase price for a limited timejust use code SNACKS14 at the check-out!

With over 280 pages of delicious snacks, the DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Snacks is part of our DFB Guide Snacks Series!

As always, you will enjoy an instantly downloadable PDF guide with comprehensive information and advice on well over 250 delicious snacks that you can savor at the Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios parks in the Walt Disney World resort.

The DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Snacks e-Book includes:

  • Full-color photos of well over 250 of our favorite snacks
  • Over 280 pages of great information, tips, and insider info
  • Current prices and Disney Dining Plan snack credit status
  • Disney Food Blog reviews of all snacks
  • Special Bonus items you’re going to love! (Of course…how could we not include these?!)

DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Snacks Sample Page

Know what you’re getting BEFORE using a precious snack credit or spending limited vacation dollars. Whether you want sweet, salty, crunchy, healthy, or something in between, The DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Snacks e-Book tells you where to find a snack to match your craving!

Don’t forget — for easy access in the parks, put the guide on your smartphone or tablet!

Get Yours At a Discounted Price for a Limited Time!

To celebrate the grand launch and to thank you for your support of the blog, we’ll be offering the brand new Guide for $3 off its standard rate for a limited time! Order your copy now for only $11.95 (regularly $14.95). To secure the discount, use code SNACKS14 at the check-out.

Or Bundle For Even More Savings!

Headed to Disney World and want the whole scoop on snacks? Bundle four of our most popular Disney Dining Guides and SAVE!

Pick up our DFB Guide and Snacks Bundle for over 40% off! This includes our critically acclaimed DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks, and DFB Guide to Epcot Snacks along with the brand new DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Snacks. All editions have been [Read more…]

Happy National Coffee Day! Three Unique Ways to Enjoy Coffee at Disney World

In case you didn’t know, today is National Coffee Day. And we all know that java lovers don’t check their passion for this Drink of Life when they step foot inside the Big Purple Gates!

coffee hut typhoon lagoon

There are the big headliners in the Disney coffee game. With Starbucks at two parks and Downtown Disney (and coming soon to Disney’s Hollywood Studios), you’re never far from your favorite coffee beverage. And Joffreys coffee stands inside and outside the parks lure us with those fresh coffee smells and giant doughnuts. But what if you’re looking for something a little different? Today, we have a few suggestions for other spots to indulge in some really unique coffee treats in Disney World.

Tipsy Ducks in Love

Looking for a coffee drink with a little “cheer” involved? Try the Tipsy Ducks in Love at the Joy of Tea in the China Pavilion at Epcot. Besides the crazy fun name, this refreshing Iced Mocha comes with two additions to make it extra special — a shot of Bourbon and a crown of Whipped Cream.

Tipsy Duck

Tipsy Duck

It’s the perfect drink for strolling the Promenade on a hot day. Or enjoy it after dinner as dessert!

Cappuccino Chocolate Cupcake

Speaking of dessert, one of my favorite ways to enjoy coffee is in cupcake form. :-) So when the craving strikes, head over to Toy Story Pizza Planet in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a Cappuccino Chocolate Cupcake.

Since I prefer to get my coffee buzz with liberal amounts of other flavors thrown in, this mammoth cupcake is perfect! The coffee flavors are very subtle, and take a backseat to the chocolate. But it’s a flavor that’s more complex than your garden variety chocolate cupcake.

Cuppuccino Cupcake

Cuppuccino Cupcake

And the whipped Buttercream Frosting and Toffee and Nut Bits that complete this classic are a nice addition.

Victoria & Albert’s

But if you’re looking for a coffee experience, you must try [Read more…]

Review: 50s Prime Time Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

It’s been a looong time since we reviewed 50s Prime Time Cafe, which is strange as it’s one of my favorite restaurants!

If you have ever wanted to escape into a 1950s sitcom, then you must give this spot a try.

Located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s a fun hybrid of good comfort food with immersive entertainment. And you’re one of the stars (of course)!

I don’t get to dine here as much as I would like, but Wendy and I managed to squeeze in an advance dining reservation on a recent trip to Walt Disney World.

Come along while we take a tour, and stick around to see what’s for dinner!

Atmosphere

And we will get to dinner soon enough. We have lots to show you! But first, let’s take a look around.

The retro, Mid-20th Century vibe comes across as soon as you lay eyes on the sign. Check out the antennae!

50s Prime Time Sign

50s Prime Time Sign

Head in to the podium and let the hostess know that you’re there, and prepare yourself to be embraced like kin. Because you’ve just acquired a whole bunch of new cousins. Why? Well, when you step into 50s Prime Time, everyone here is a family member! Mom’s in the kitchen, and you’re usually being served by one of your cousins, aunts, or uncles. Really cute concept.

When your table is called, listen for your last name: “Wolfe Kids! Time for dinner!” (And don’t dilly-dally; you WILL get a talking to if you take your sweet time to come to the table.)

Before that happens though, have a look around. There’s TONS to see. The waiting room is fashioned after Dad’s Domain. You can practically see the slippers and smell the pipe smoke. :-)

Waiting Area

Waiting Area…Dad’s Living Room

50s Prime Time also plays host to The Tune-In Lounge. This is a great bar. Beyond the vintage feel, I love that you can sit here and order from the 50s Prime Time Cafe menu! So if you can’t get an ADR, don’t despair; the digs here are pretty comfy and the bartenders are always great.

Order from the full menu at 50s Prime Time Cafe when you're at Tune In Lounge in Disney's Hollywood Studios

The Tune In Lounge

There’s additional seating allocated to The Tune-In Lounge as well if all the bar seats are full.

Another Living Room for Dad -- and Additional Tune In Lounge Seating

Another Living Room for Dad — and Additional Tune In Lounge Seating

But…the stuff! It’s everywhere. I know you have a relative somewhere who holds onto all manner of knick knacks — that person clearly decorated 50s Prime Time.

Be sure to look at it all — the vintage appliances, the tchotchkes. There’s such a sense of the familiar here, and I figure it’s because if you look long enough, you will find something you recognize from childhood if you’re as old as I am.

Atmosphere - Recognize Anything From Your Grandparents' House?

Just Like Your Grandparents’ House, Right?

See what I mean?

50s Prime Time Cafe Decor

50s Prime Time Cafe Decor

Seating areas continue the throwback feel, and of course you’re sitting in the kitchen, not the dining room. There’s formica and vinyl everywhere!

One of the 50s Prime Time Cafe Dining Rooms

One of the 50s Prime Time Cafe Dining Rooms

Even in the kitchen you’ll find [Read more…]

Review: Strawberry Daiquiri, Blue Skyy Lemonade, and Captain’s Mai Tai at High Octane Refreshments in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Today we’re celebrating Happy Hour (no matter what the time is when you read this) with a few cold sips at High Octane Refreshments at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

The name is a hint as to what’s on the menu, since just about everything is “fully loaded” at this little bar, tucked into the Streets of America section of the park. It’s a very close neighbor to Studio Catering Co. quick service in both location and vibe. So much so, in fact, that — at a glance — it appears to be little more than expanded seating for the location.

But what High Octane offers that the Studio Catering food counter does not is a variety of specialty drinks served frozen and on the rocks, along with a full bar and an assortment of beer and wine to wet your whistle and offer a moment to refresh and refuel… in a “high octane” sense, of course ;) .

Atmosphere

The red and yellow color scheme over a large area of concrete that dominates Studio Catering Co. continues here, even down to the style of seating.

High Octane Refreshments next to Studio Catering Co.

High Octane Refreshments next to Studio Catering Co.

High Octane Bar

High Octane Bar

Seating at High Octane

Seating at High Octane

The only thing that really differentiates it is this small sign above the bar.

High Octane sign

High Octane sign

And sometimes you’ll spot a propped up menu in the middle of the street to let you know what awaits you at this stop.

High Octane Street Sign

High Octane Street Sign

Bar and Beverages

High Octane’s menu features good ol’ standard bar drinks like Long Island Iced Tea, Pina Coladas, and Rum Runners. (We miss you, Stoplight Margarita!) So when it’s time to belly up ;), you likely won’t have a difficult time deciding if you’re already familiar with these basic bar beverages.

High Octane Refreshments Menu

High Octane Refreshments Menu

High Octane Refreshments Menu

High Octane Refreshments Menu

I like the little seating area to the left of the bar that’s spotted with trees (it provides a wee bit of shade), so my friend and I carried our beverages there.

Side area seating

Side area seating

We decided to sample the Strawberry Daiquiri, Captain’s Mai Tai, and Blue Skyy Lemonade.

The Strawberry Daiquiri (this blend of strawberry and Bacardi Rum is pre-mixed and poured from a machine, for those curious) is [Read more…]

News! Allergy-friendly Menus Currently in Testing at Select Disney World Restaurants

Disney World continually seeks ways to help guests with food allergies feel more at ease during their travels. If you or any member of your traveling group has a food allergy, you may be interested to hear about a current test underway at a few dining locations in Disney World.

For a limited time, select Disney World restaurants are offering menus specifically geared towards those with food allergies to allow ease of ordering directly from the menus. Test locations at the resorts include World Premiere Food Court at All Star Movies Resort, Flying Fish Café at Disney’s BoardWalk, and Kona Café and Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Village Resort.

Kona Cafe

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, The Hollywood Brown Derby, Sci-Fi Dine-in Restaurant, and ABC Commissary are taking part in the test.

ABC Commissary - Outside View

ABC Commissary

In these beginning phases, ABC Commissary’s menu [Read more…]