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…]

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…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: May 3, 2015

Hey all! Well, the Disney Food news this week was expansive, diverse, and dramatic. We saw tons of comments and feedback on the just-announced 2015 Walt Disney World Free Dining offer.

free-dining

And readers were equally passionate about the news that Ghirardelli Soda Fountain at both Disney California Adventure and Disney World’s Downtown Disney would no longer be offering peanut products. While we will miss their delicious Gold Rush Sundae, many readers with allergy concerns are excited about this new development.

We also saw some much-anticipated news out of Disney’s Animal Kingdom about all the new stuff happening there! Let’s check it out.

Disney Food News

Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including the latest menu updates, restaurant closures, special events, and more!

We’ve got all the latest for you, so check it out before you go.

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or about Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

Today, we’re featuring more irresistible sweet treats!

“It isn’t a trip to Disney without one!” according to reader Katherine Jennings Lewis. I totally agree! Mickey Bars are a must!

Mickey Bars For All!

Mickey Bars For All!

Reader Becky Ginther found one of our favorites — the King Cupcake at Disney’s Pop Century Resort — this past week! Mmmmm…bacon!

King Cupcake with Cute New White Chocolate Garnish!

King Cupcake with New White Chocolate Garnish!

Do you have a favorite Disney Food find? Share your photos with us!

Deal of the Week: 2015-2016 Disney World Vacation Must-Have E-Book Sale!

OK — so you have a Walt Disney World Trip on the books for this year — Woohoo!! There’s nothing more exciting than counting down the days to your next Walt Disney World Trip!

dfb2015_guide_3d

But, even the most spontaneous Disney fan knows that planning ahead is the key to a stress-less vacay. And that mantra is absolutely true when it comes to dining.

If you really want to dine in the hottest restaurants, you pretty much have to plan ahead. Be spontaneous, of course. But get a couple Advance Dining Reservations in place.

But which ones?

That’s where Disney Food Blog comes in! You already enjoy our reviews, news, and tips daily on our Blog. But did you know — that’s JUST the tip of the iceberg. Because we have lots more to share with you in our complete line of DFB Guides.

If you’re ready for a fun, easy way to personalize eating and drinking your way through Disney, then check out the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2015 e-Book.
Fully updated for your 2015-2016 adventures, the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2015 e-Book is an instantly downloadable PDF guide, featuring over 490 full-color pages of photographs, information, and advice about our favorite subject — Eating Your Way Through Disney! So you save time and money as you enjoy planning one of the most important parts of your trip. ;-)

And to thank all of you for your support of DFB, we are offering extra savings on our most popular DFB Guide right now. Just enter promo code 2015 at checkout and you’ll save $4 off of our cover price of the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2015 e-Book!

But if you’d like to enjoy even more detail, check out another great offer.

DFB Everything Bundle SALE!

If you’d like even more great information, pictures, and tips, then the DFB Everything Bundle is the right fit for you.

Everything Bundle Collages

And to get you ready for that next big trip, we are offering the DFB Everything Bundle for $15 off the already low price! It’s like getting an entire book for free. Just enter promo code Everything15 at checkout to take advantage of this offer.

The Everything Bundle includes, well, Everything! When you purchase this special bundle of DFB Guides, you’ll get it all: [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…]

News: Disney Valentine’s Day Treats Make the Celebration Extra Sweet

Nothing says “I love you!” like a giant pile of frosting.  And some of our favorite spots throughout Disney World are featuring extra special love-themed desserts this weekend.

Cupcake lovers have lots of options. We think the Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake at Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery should top the list. After all, what goes better with your favorite Starbucks beverage than a big chocolatey cupcake??

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake at Magic Kingdom's Main Street Bakery

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake at Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery

But the Raspberry Panna Cotta Cupcake from BoardWalk Bakery also has us intrigued. It’s like two desserts in one, and reminds me a bit of the Master’s Cupcake at Be Our Guest Restaurant, which features Grey Stuff — Cookies and Cream Panna Cotta.

Raspberry Panna Cotta Cupcake from BoardWalk Bakery

Raspberry Panna Cotta Cupcake from BoardWalk Bakery

If you like to have your cupcakes and eat them too (plus you’d like a couple other things), then head to the Beach Club Marketplace for the Sweetheart Dessert. It includes Cupcakes, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, and Chocolate Truffles. Best of all — there’s two of everything, so no sharing required. :-)

Sweetheart Dessert from Beach Club Marketplace

Sweetheart Dessert from Beach Club Marketplace

If we had a vote right now for Disney’s cutest couple, I’m pretty sure that Lady and the Tramp would probably score in the top 3. So it’s fitting that they’re the face of amore on a cupcake at Disney’s Hollywood Studios right now.

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake

We had a chance to try this one for ourselves the other day, and it’s pretty adorable. Featuring Red Velvet Cake and whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting, it’s also delicious. You’ll find it at The Trolley Car Café, Starring Rolls Cafe, ABC Commissary, Pizza Planet, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Co., Rosie’s All American Café, and Fairfax Fare.

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake -- Inside

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake — Inside

However, I personally want to drive to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge right now for some of these [Read more…]

Review: “Big Hero 6″ Baymax Chocolate Cupcake with Banana Buttercream Icing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Wondering what the latest cupcake at Hollywood Studios is these days? Well, look no further than Counter Service spots such as Starring Rolls, ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, Pizza Planet, Rosie’s All American Cafe, and Studio Catering Co. for the Chocolate Cupcake with Banana Buttercream Icing and Caramel Drizzle!

Chocolate Cupcake with Banana Buttercream Icing

Chocolate Cupcake with Banana Buttercream Icing at Starring Rolls

You’ll see it by that title in the locations above, but since that’s a suuuuper long name, let’s just call it the Big Hero 6 Cupcake, since the special guest star on this one is a white chocolate Baymax topper!

Big Hero 6 Cupcake

Big Hero 6 Cupcake

By the way, he is one hearty hero. It’s almost like getting an additional chocolate lollipop with your cupcake, like with the White Chocolate Elephant Cupcake found at Animal Kingdom’s Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery (though not quite so substantial).

Baymax Topper

Baymax Topper

With a HUGE mound of banana buttercream frosting and [Read more…]

Review: Frozen Summer Fun and Food at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

UPDATE: Originally slated to run until September 1st, Frozen Summer Fun has been extended through September 28, 2014!

Perhaps you’ve heard of a moderately successful Disney film called Frozen? ;)

Frozen at DHSWell, it’s time to celebrate with some Frozen Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Frozen Summer Fun!

Frozen Summer Fun!

And there is so much to do! Your first stop might be belting out “Let It Go” with Anna and Elsa at For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration!

Elsa and Anna Letting It Go!

Elsa and Anna Letting It Go!

Or maybe you’ll head straight over to Frozen Funland, where you can try your hand (or, umm, feet?) at skating on the indoor ice rink. Or you can do what I did and enjoy watching other people skate in your place ;) .

Performers at Frozen Funland Ice Rink

Performers at Frozen Funland Ice Rink

Frozen Funland Ice Rink

Frozen Funland Ice Rink

You’ll want to make sure your Take-Along Olaf is snapping plenty of selfies!

Take-Along Olaf

Take-Along Olaf

Or maybe just take some time to gaze at the gently falling snow covering the pine– I mean, palm trees.

Let it SNOW!!

Let it SNOW!!

No matter which way you turn, there’s all sorts of Frozen Fun to be had, so you might need to refuel with a snack or two!

Several classic Disney Park snacks – such as Krispy Treats and Frosted Cookies, as well as a newcomer, Brownie Pops — have been spruced up for the occasion in hues of “Frozen” white and blue at the Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post (special for the event, you’ll find it in the Streets of America section), and Sweet Spells.

Wandering Oaken's Trading Post sign

Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post sign

Frozen Krispy Treats

“Frozen” Krispy Treats

Snowflake Cookies

Snowflake Cookies

Chocolate-covered Moose Cookies

Chocolate-covered Cookies

Blue and White Brownie Pops

Blue and White Brownie Pops

And these days no bakery case in Disney World is complete without the Olaf Candy Apple!

Olaf Candy Apple

Olaf Candy Apple

The Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post is the neighbor to Frozen Funland, the already-famous spot that includes the ice skating rink as well as the Sweet Treat Bar.

Sweet Treat Bar

Sweet Treat Bar

Sweet Treat Bar Menu

Sweet Treat Bar Menu

I know the choice of Hot Cocoa in July might not top your list, but they do keep it fairly chilly in there for the rink. Plus, the addition of Toasted Marshmallow flavor makes it a bit more enticing, no?

The Sweet Treat Bar is one of several spots around Hollywood Studios where you can grab the specialty cupcakes for Frozen Summer Fun: the Elsa Vanilla Cupcake with Buttercream Icing, the Anna Chocolate Cupcake with Buttercream Icing, and the Olaf Carrot Cake Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing.

Elsa Cupcakes

Elsa Cupcakes

Anna Cupcakes

Anna Cupcakes

Olaf Cupcakes

Olaf Cupcakes

Of course, you can find the Olaf Cupcake at several Hollywood Studios Quick Service locations, including Fairfax Fare, Studio Catering Co., Pizza Planet, and — the spot where I grabbed mine — Starring Rolls Café!

Take-Along Olaf with Olaf Carrot Cake Cupcake

Take-Along Olaf with Olaf Carrot Cake Cupcake

There is PUH-LENTY of [Read more…]

Snack Series: Blueberry Cupcake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

So, there’s this trend that keeps popping up over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and we couldn’t be happier about it: seasonal cupcakes can be found pretty much all-year ‘round!

The Fall brought us the Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing, and the holiday season brought us the return of the Gingerbread Cupcake. And they’re starting this year off with a bang… introducing the Blueberry Cupcake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing!

Blueberry Cupcake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

Blueberry Cupcake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

First things first: before you can dig in, you’ve gotta know where to find it. Fortunately (as with most Hollywood Studios specialty cupcakes), you can find them in several Counter Service locations all around the park, including: Toy Story Pizza Planet, Fairfax Fare, ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, and the Studios resident cupcake haven, Starring Rolls Cafe.

Just look for this sign:

Cupcake sign at ABC Commissary

Cupcake sign at ABC Commissary

The exception to this rule, however, is Starring Rolls. In this case, just look for the cupcakes :) .

Blueberry Cupcakes in Case

Blueberry Cupcakes in Case

The best thing about seeing it in person, is that — much like the Gourmet Cake Cups found at Magic Kingdom’s Cheshire Café — I feel that the “live” appearance of the cupcake exceeds the picture on the sign.

In fact, I looked at it from several angles, just to enjoy all the colors :) .

All around the Cupcake!

All around the Cupcake!

Back of the Cupcake

Back of the Cupcake

Let’s take it from the top… because, in this case, the top [Read more…]

Snack Series: Desserts from Backlot Express

Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of my favorite spots to grab a quick bite when I’m at DHS.

The fantastic themeing really makes you feel like you’ve stumbled into a backlot workshop. I could wander around this place a really long time, taking in all the detail.

I’ve had the opportunity to try a couple of the items on the menu, and they’ve been big hits — with me and others as well.

The Grilled Vegetable Sandwich is tops in my book. And any place that serves Buffalo Chicken Nuggets? Well, that’s just pure awesomeness.

Entree Menu -- Click to Enlarge

But today, we’re here to sample the Desserts! Sure, they’re pre-made. But I’ve discovered some pretty delicious desserts at Disney counter service spots, so I wanted to give these a go to see how they compared.

There are two desserts to choose from at Backlot Express: Marble Cheesecake and No Sugar Added Strawberry Parfait.

Full Menu -- Click to Enlarge

First up — the Marble Cheesecake!

This one is actually… [Read more…]