Are you ready for a delicious dinner buffet served up with a side of THE FORCE?!
I sure hope so, because a long time ago (a few hours now) in a galaxy far, far away (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) we attended the debut evening of the Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine! We JUST returned from the long-awaited new character dining meal in Disney’s Hollywood Studios featuring…yup!…STAR WARS CHARACTERS!
Well, not exactly Star Wars characters; this was BETTER than Star Wars characters because it was Disney characters dressed up as Star Wars characters!!
Confused? Maybe a picture will help it to make more sense… ;-D
Now, let’s dive in and check out the Cantina… uh, I mean, the scene!
Staged (see what I did there?) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood and Vine Restaurant — which normally houses Disney Junior characters — the new Star Wars Weekends character meal was nearly an immediate sell-out when we announced it just over a month ago.
The restaurant is set up as a buffet, which means you’re able to set the pace of your meal and make sure you’re at your table when the characters come your way.
Hollywood & Vine is themed as a vintage “Cafeteria to the Stars” (and the art deco decor on the buffet makes it stand out a teensy tiny bit from its companions around Walt Disney World).
However, for this event, the place received a bit of a galactic makeover!
Otherwise, a relatively neutral backdrop featuring photos of old Hollywood, a big ol’ mural, and aluminum tables and chairs means that the characters really are the feature here.
Speaking of…the characters! That’s what you really want to hear about, right? Enough pictures of seating, DisneyFoodBlog…let’s get to the fun!
As seen earlier, Ewok Chip & Dale greet you immediately upon your arrival with a couple of hugs and a chance for a sweet photo opp! (But hey, ummm, guys… I think you’re facing the wrong way 😉 )
There, that’s better! After your picture, your photographer will hand you a special Photopass card just for the occasion: your picture with Chip & Dale is included in the cost of this experience.
Clearly, everyone is excited about this 😉 !
Once you’re seated at your table, you’ll entertain a few other special visitors who stop by, including Stormtrooper Donald,
Darth Goofy (Brilliant!),
Princess Leia Minnie (LOVING that bun/ears combo!)…
… and JEDI MICKEY himself, striking his best Jedi pose!
I will say that the meetings with the characters were a bit brief compared with some other character meals I’ve experienced — the house was packed. But even so, we got to meet and have our photos taken with every single character, and were happy with each visit. And as I saw the characters interact with the kids, it seemed that there were plenty of hugs and autographs going around. The general mood was just high-energy FUN.
Okay, with both the Empire and the Alliance represented with these characters, you now have a choice to make. Upon being seated at your table, you’ll notice something in addition to your napkins and silverware. A piece of paper that is red on one side…
… and blue on the other.
What appears to be merely paper transforms into a LIGHT SABER!
Throughout the meal, guests are invited to choose their color: fold your paper to show blue if you’re on Mickey and Minnie’s side (the Alliance), or red for Goofy and Donald (the Empire). I thought it was super clever how they didn’t ask kids to choose between the dark side and the good guys — basically, you just picked your favorite character, waved your light saber like crazy, and let out a holler! (This is also, by the way, a great little energy spender for kids who are really excited while waiting for the characters to arrive at their table).
I noticed impromptu light saber battles happening all around the restaurant, primarily between fathers and their kids (and, yep, a few pairs of full-grown adults, too!).
I would LOVE to see a more permanent souvenir available for the kids with this meal, like a small, plastic red or blue light saber — the paper ones were such a hit, I think something like that would be an extra thrill and terrific touch.
For all this talk of children, you should know that my friend and I — both adults — felt right at home, and there were plenty of other adults-only groups for this event. While this is not the case with the typical Disney Junior meals featured throughout the year here, please don’t shy away from this event if you would like to go but don’t have children to bring. All Star Wars fans are welcome, both young and not-so-much 🙂 !
I think the Hollywood and Vine buffet offers some truly unique choices compared with some other buffets on property, but on this evening, the fare was a little extra special.
Things started in a fairly typical fashion with the salads, fruit, breads, and the cold bar.
But moving foward, we didn’t just have a chance to try pork, chicken, beef, etc… oh, no!
On this night we ate everything from Tusken Raider Chicken, to Salacious Crumb’s Crusted Pork (an absolute standout!), to Kamino Maple Mustard-Glazed Salmon. Reading the Star Wars names for the dishes was nearly as fun as eating it all!
Even beyond the fun names, the entrees were plentiful and varied. We also had Skywalker Ranch Chicken, Princess Leia’s Penne Pasta (not the best option, erring on the side of mushy and a bit overdone — no offense, Princess), and Mos Eisley Barbecued Meatballs (which, on the other hand, totally rocked and I wish I were still eating some right now).
If you’re a seafood fan, you can’t pass up Lando’s Lobster and Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese. Excellent!
And we certainly can’t go without mentioning Luke’s Chipotle Citrus Barbeque Chicken (…wait for it…) THIGHWALKERS!!!
Additionally, guests could enjoy the Jedi Council Carving Station, featuring Dexter Jettster’s Herb-Roasted Turkey and Kessel Run Roasted Strip Loin.
And Hollywood and Vine’s unique Create-Your-Own Pasta Station belonged to the Dark Side as Palpatine’s Pasta Station.
I’m a “sides” girl, and was happily pleased with the choices. While some were fairly simple, they were tasty: they included Cantina Corn, Greedo’s Green Beans with Garlic and Tomato, and Naboo Bean Cassoulet.
Other choices included Qui-Gon’s Quinoa and Brown Rice Pilaf, C-3PO’s Cream Corn Spoon Bread, and Solo’s Sweet Plantains.
They also included the most ridiculously awesome hot and yummy Mashed Potatoes and I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of them on the buffet. Guess I was too ready to dive in! Here they are on my first simple plate — you know how it is, at first you’re overwhelmed with so many choices that you dive right into your favorites!
Let’s not forget the Padawans! The Kid’s Buffet features Wicket the Ewok’s Macaroni and Cheese, Chewbacca’s Chicken Tenders, Ahsoka Tano’s Tater Barrels, and Yoda’s Steamed Broccoli and Carrots.
Now, let’s talk desserts! While much of the buffet was a renaming of many standard Hollywood and Vine dishes, some of the desserts were unique to this event.
Hollywood and Vine’s signature Chocolate Fountain was very much present, and every single dessert was Star Wars themed!
One side of the fountain featured Jedi desserts and this awesome Jedi Mickey display cake.
The Jedi spread included Yoda mini cupcakes, R2-D2 No Added Sugar Cheesecake, chocolate-dipped strawberries with blue sprinkles (again, a Jedi Light Saber color), and bright green key-lime tarts (green — the other Jedi saber of choice!).
And check it out on the right… a WOOKIE COOKIE!!! (Okay, these were all just appropriately labeled “Sugar Cookies,” but c’mon!)
But my VERY FAVORITE Jedi treat of all was Aunt Beru’s Blue Milk Ice Cream, made with Tatooine’s famous Blue Milk, of course — just like Luke Skywalker used to drink! YES!!! (The flavor, by the way, was a tasty light blue raspberry, while regular vanilla and chocolate soft serve were also available.)
The Dark Side of the dessert table featured this Stormtrooper display cake!
Dark Side desserts included Darth Vader mini cupcakes, and all things red to match those red light sabers: Red Velvet Cake, as well as more chocolate-dipped strawberries and Boba’s dipped Brownies and Marshmallows.
Those strawberries, by the way, could tempt anyone to come to the Dark Side.
All in all, there is something to please everyone, no matter which side you’re on!
This character meal, in addition to one featuring Darth Vader himself over at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater on the other side of the Studios are two big additions to this year’s Star Wars Weekends (and these two weeks prior).
When I consider everything about this event: from the meal and variety of foods, to the themeing, to the character interaction and photo opportunities (and, while we’re at it, to the air-conditioning!), I think guests who choose this experience will have many reasons to be pleased with their choice. In other words, “This will be a day long remembered.” 😉
For those who love these characters, this is a huge time-saver and win when it comes to getting autographs. I’ve stood in line for 50 minutes in 95 degrees with no shade to get my picture with Jedi Mickey and Minnie during Star Wars Weekends, not to mention an hour and a half for a photo-opp with Chewbacca. (I also took tent-shifts with my friends for three days to get our tickets for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace… but that’s another story for another time). My point is this: since these characters only come out once a year for a few weeks, there is never a short line to greet them. Add that May is when temps start to reach the 90s in Florida… well, you could easily spend three hours in the summer sun trying to get pictures with all of the characters available here. Wouldn’t you rather sit back, have a leisurely meal, engage in a saber battle or two, and get your autographs in the process?
A few logistics: the cost of this experience is $55.99 adults and $33.99 kids 3-9, or two table service credits for those on the Disney Dining Plan. The event does not accept Tables in Wonderland; however, Disney Visa Cardholder discounts were honored last night (though blackout dates may be applied in the future — it’s best to check with your server upon arrival in case the discount continues to be honored).
Our fingers are crossed that one or both of the Star Wars themed meals stick around long-term after the Weekends are over. After all, now that Disney’s moving forward with more episodes in the Star Wars film series, doesn’t that mean the characters should have more of a presence in the parks? Hmm?
Are you hoping this character meal sticks around full time? Let us know in the comments below!