Disney Daydreaming: Toy Story Land Dining Options

So, you might say it was kind of a BIG DEAL out at the D23 Expo, what with the announcements about the new Skipper Canteen Jungle Cruise-themed restaurant coming to Adventureland, and a little thing called STAR WARS LAND coming to both Disneyland and Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.

Of course, there was even more news than that… from Soarin’ Around the World updates coming to Epcot to more information about Pandora — The World of AVATAR, and, of course, Toy Story Land also on the way to Hollywood Studios.

Toy Story Land Concept ©Disney

Toy Story Land Concept ©Disney

Now, I know that’s not exactly food news, per se, but Toy Story Land is going to cover 11 acres so it’s going to be HUGE. Let’s face it — there’s gotta be some food going in there somewhere! [Read more…]

Review: The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

Cheers from The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge!

The Brown Derby Lounge sits just outside The Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Its reputation stems from that of the original Brown Derby Restaurant in the City of Lights — a hot spot of the 1930s and 40s where stars of the Golden Age of film came to “see and be seen.” The outdoor lounge (which was added to the Disney World location in 2013) offers a spot for walk-ups without Advance Dining Reservations to enjoy a taste along with a bit of the ambience of the signature restaurant.

The Lounge serves food along with cocktails and bar service. And with some new items added to the menu this summer, we thought it was a good time to travel back to Hollywood’s heyday with a visit to the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge.

Atmosphere

For a newer location, The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge blends so seamlessly within its surroundings that its hard to remember that it hasn’t been here all along. And, to be fair, the patio and tables HAVE been here all along, but they weren’t functioning as a lounge at the time.

Below is a shot from its opening day in October 2013.

Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

Not much has changed in the past almost-two years, except for [Read more…]

Review: Chili and Cheese Foot Long Hot Dog at Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner

Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner is a quick-service lunch and dinner spot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

For those on the Disney Dining Plan they have plenty of Quick-Service Meal and Snack options to choose from, including that yummy pulled pork mac and cheese, but today is all about the Foot Long Hot Dog!

Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner is located off of Hollywood Boulevard on Echo Lake. There is no inside seating but there are outdoor tables with umbrellas.

Exterior of Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner

Exterior of Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner

Since the diner itself is…well… [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

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! Menu Refresh for Studio Catering Co. at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Tucked between the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” play area and its neighboring waterhole, High Octane Refreshments, Studio Catering Co. is just your basic quick stop with plenty of seats along with lots of shade and high-powered fans for hot Florida days.

We’ve enjoyed the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich here in the past, but really, Studio Catering Co. has never been particularly known for any signature items or “must-do dining.”

However, the menu has been given a bit of a revamp, and some of the items seem to have some definite potential! Nearly the entire menu has been refreshed, and while some items bear a resemblance to previous bites here, a couple are all new.

For instance, the new Pulled Beef Brisket Sandwich features braised beef brisket, Muenster cheese, arugula and horseradish sauce served on a ciabatta roll.

braised pulled brisket sandwich

Braised Pulled Brisket Sandwich

Fans of the previous Toasted Tuscan may enjoy the Deli Sandwich, which is [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 3, 2015

We’re taking a quick trip around all four Disney World Parks and then making stops at several Resorts, where a lot of food news seems to be taking place as of late!

But we’re starting our “World”-wide tour at Downtown Disney, and taking a peek at how things are shaping up as the transition towards “Disney Springs” continues on. And we may even take a sneak peek at something coming to our friends in Disneyland on the west coast.

Disney Springs mural

Disney Springs mural

So, are you ready to see What’s New? Good! Because in the words of Peter Pan, “Here we GOOOOOOO…”

DOWNTOWN DISNEY

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Okay, so we’ve mentioned it a couple of times recently, but that’s because we’re happy that BabyCakes has a new home in Downtown Disney! Located at The Landing of what will be Disney Springs, Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC has been up and running since 1 pm on Sunday, February 22nd.

Erin McKenna's Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna’s Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna

Erin McKenna

Samoa Donut

Samoa Donut

Featuring gluten-free and vegan baked goods, this is great news for guests on some dietary restrictions. Read our opening day review here!

Flour and Sugar

Speaking of baked goods, Flour and Sugar is a little kiosk that can be found on the newly opened Marketplace Causeway. It sells pre-packaged cookies inspired by various cities in the Sunshine State.

Flour and Sugar

Flour and Sugar

We tried the Siesta Key Key Lime S’more, and we’ll have a review here for you soon!

Key Lime S'more

Key Lime S’more

Disney Springs Construction

All in all, things really seem to be picking up speed in Downtown Disney with the Causeway completed, allowing an easy stroll from spots around T-Rex to the Rainforest Cafe side at the Marketplace.

The Marketplace Causeway

The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Disney Springs sign

Disney Springs sign

We’ll be sure to take a little tour along the path when we’re back with our Flour and Sugar review! The next thing we have our eyes on? Look for [Read more…]