Welcome to the 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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
It was a blast spotting ways in which the typical Backlot “props” were incorporated into the Hangar theme.
You can see where “decay” has settled into this space in the many years since it last served its original purpose as a spaceport.
It appears a graffiti artist has even taken advantage of the abandoned spot 😉 .
Even the tabletops were
themed accordingly, adding to the fun.
A photo backdrop has also been added to help capture your time in the Hangar.
Inside, the Hangar theme takes over the main entrance of the Backlot Express through to the “Paint Department” seating area of the regular operations. Star Wars themeing ends once you arrive at the Counter Service ordering stations, which remain in service for the rest of the day even when the Hangar portion switches over to the Lounge Experience at 4 pm. (Entry for regular counter service eats is through what is typically the back of the restaurant, and seating is available in the stunt room area, not themed for Star Wars.)
Outdoor seating is also available. And while that can potentially give guests a chance to enjoy being seated while watching the super fun “Jedi Training Academy” next door depending on where they are sitting, the bulk of the details and sight gags are indoors.
My husband and I returned in the evening to check in at the outdoor post pictured above for our 8:50 pm reservation. We were informed they were running about 15 minutes behind, but the buzzer that was presented to us at check-in went off just before 9 pm.
After inquiring about which galaxy my husband and I came from, our host walked us to our table and assured us that all of the servers at the Rebel Hangar are humanoids, so communication wouldn’t be an issue ;). While I can’t say we encountered any dangerous smugglers or otherwise fearsome creatures in the Hangar (whew!), we did enjoy some very fun and enthusiastic Cast Members through the host and our table server. (For guests interested in Star Wars character interaction, the Jedi Mickey Character Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast at Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant have returned to Hollywood Studios again this year.)
The primary things I noticed that had changed since our day visit, aside from the addition of a few more props, were that the tables were set with dishes and cutlery like a Table Service restaurant, and the music had changed over to jazzy, lounge-esque versions of music from Star Wars.
Upon being seated, we were presented with menus.
After all, intergalactic travel can make you pretty hungry! Let’s see what’s up for grabs at the Hangar, my fellow humanoids…
The menu at the Rebel Hangar focuses on small plates… with a Star Wars twist, of course! Fans will enjoy choosing from items like Pilot’s Pommes Frites, Ilum Fruit and Cheese Sabers, and a Trio of Thermal Detonators.
Beverage options include beer and wine.
But the unique theme continues more with the Specialty Cocktails.
Dessert offerings are a Yoda Key Lime Cake and a Trio of Star Wars Mini Cupcakes.
Now, $16.99 may seem a lot for the trio (miniature versions of the character cupcakes you can find at Counter Service spots throughout the park — we’ll be checking out the new Jabba the Hutt Cupcake soon!). However, they come to you in the souvenir Han Solo in Carbonite popcorn bucket, otherwise available at Tusken Fridge Raiders inside Darth’s Mall (with popcorn, instead, of course).
Because we already had some idea of the food and beverage choices from when Disney announced this new dining experience, I think I was most excited to see the final item on the menu, which was a happy surprise: Blue Milk!!
As you might anticipate, the added flavor to the milk is of the “blue raspberry” icee variety. While I thought that worked quite well with the Blue Milk Ice Cream served at Jedi Mickey’s Character Dinner, what it did in this case was make it taste like “after the cereal” milk — you know, the way milk tastes at the end of your bowl of Fruity Pebbles or Boo Berry.
I can’t say it was the best beverage complement to a meal, but really… WHO CARES!? It felt so cool to be drinking the same milk as Luke Skywalker that I’m glad I got to have it at least once. It’s totally made for great photo opps.
The Dagobah Swamp Juice, on the other hand, was a tasty mix of Midori, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Sweet-and-Sour topped with Lemon-Lime Fomz. With a definite emphasis on the sweet-and-sour, this one delivered a pucker!
The $14.75 price tag has much to do, however, with one obvious addition: the X-wing Starfighter glow clip.
While the X-wing is pictured in the menu, our server actually gave us a choice of three items: a Millennium Falcon glow cube, a Death Star glow cube, or the X-Wing glow clip. It’s worth noting that you can get the Millennium Falcon or the Death Star at any of the pop-up bars around Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends (we’ll be taking a closer look at those in an upcoming review), but the X-Wing is reserved for the Rebel Hangar. Like its counterpart cubes, it can change color if you set it to do so.
Because of the emphasis on small plates, all of our food arrived at the same time (with the exception of dessert). And while we were eager to check out everything, one dish stole all of our attention right away: Chips and Sith.
Wow. WOW. Not only does this Darth Maul-themed dish look amazing, the chickpea and lemon hummus was topped with a roasted red pepper coulis which provided not only the base of the “face,” but it also delivered just the right amount of heat, with the black sesame dust creating Darth Maul’s signature tattoos adding a bit of unexpected texture.
That’s one delicious Sith!
Before moving on, I just have to share this close-up of the perfectly creepy, radish-ringed “eyes.” They were simultaneously unsettling and oddly intriguing — not unlike Darth Maul himself.
While not quite so intricately themed, the Lightsaber Bites were a yummy addition nonetheless.
They are knockwurst sausage corn dogs, served with a honey mustard sauce and house made chips. The corn batter was fried to a crispy golden brown and was delicious with the sausage, but what stood out to me here was the portion. You receive five nicely sized corn dogs along with the chips, and while the Hangar’s dishes are all considered “small plates,” this is definitely a meal-maker.
After the Chips and Sith, the Lightsaber Bites came in as our second favorite.
We turn next to The Dark Fried Chicken and Waffles: an entree-sized serving of Chicken Breast Nuggets and barbecue sauce paired with two miniature Darth Vader Waffles and maple syrup.
This dish was fine — I always enjoy the chicken nuggets at Disney, and the waffles were served warm and well-prepared (though I felt like some butter on the side would have been a nice touch). But there was nothing super unusual here, aside from the decorative waffles. Coming in at $14.99 this was our most expensive dish, and I felt like the other dishes we had provided a better overall value.
Our last plate was The Sith and The Jedi Slider Sampler. The Sith is represented by barbecue pulled brisket with coleslaw while The Jedi is barbecue pulled chicken with arugula.
Of the two, I have to go with the Dark Side, because the pulled brisket provides more of a rich flavor punch than the chicken, along with the cool tang of the slaw. I thought the dark bread might be tough, but even though the flavor was nothing out of the ordinary, the texture was fine.
We capped off our time with the Yoda Key Lime Cake. He comes complete with a small white chocolate lightsaber.
I wondered if the “gelatinous green goo” that provides Yoda’s signature green color would be a distraction to my enjoyment, but it wasn’t. I barely noticed it. This was just a smooth, creamy filling between the thin yellow cake layers with a really nice citrusy burst of flavor — just what it needed to be. I took the picture below to show the layers, but obviously they’re no different than what you can see from the original plating.
The lesson here is that Yoda-shaped food has this in common with Mickey-shaped food: it’s ears off first for this little guy, too!
No, we didn’t go for the Trio of Star Wars Cupcakes; primarily because with the addition of the Jabba the Hutt Cupcake this year alongside the Darth Vader Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cupcake and the Yoda Chocolate and Hazelnut Cupcake, we’d already tried them all! Look for our Jabba review coming soon 🙂 .
And so we wrap up a fun night at the Hangar!
I was more than pleasantly surprised with our late evening stop at the Rebel Hangar. Considering the theme is working within an already established space, I felt like the Rebel Hangar really was transformed into its own unique experience as much as possible. And as far as the food, the small plates that we tried struck me much closer to entree-size than I anticipated, providing bang for the buck. Though you may not remember the flavors as much as the themeing of the food (many of the items are essentially dressed-up counter service options), the dishes are tasty as well as fun.
Now, with a run-time of just one month, the Advance Dining Reservations filled up quickly — at least for the initial openings, which were limited to Star Wars Weekends (Fridays through Sundays only). It does appear that the addition of weekday openings has helped to meet more of the demand. If you were able to get a reservation, I think you’ll find that the Rebel Hangar is a nice cherry on top of the sundae that is Star Wars Weekends.
But let’s say an Advance Dining Reservation for your planned day of visiting Hollywood Studios somehow eluded you. Have hope, my friends… After all, deep down, aren’t we all hoping that the Rebel Hangar is really just a dress rehearsal for our dream Cantina if Star Wars Land is ever announced for Hollywood Studios? If the Rebel Hangar is even a teeny-tiny indication of what that could be, it’s already amazing to consider it. Regardless, I already hope they bring this experience back to Star Wars Weekends next year. It was worth the stroll through a few galaxies to get there.
Will you be visiting the Rebel Hangar this year? If so, what are you most looking forward to? Please let us know with a comment below!