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!
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.
The sculpture area is super cool, with the scupltures all in white awaiting their paint.
And you can spot pops of color here and there, too.
Speaking of paints… you’ll see cans upon cans of the stuff, in both indoor and outdoor seating areas.
Though you could choose to eat in the stunt crew area.
But I can’t say that I have, since I find the stunt dummies sitting above –frankly — a little creepy.
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.
There is even the ol’ office bulletin board for the Paint Department, displaying inter-team memos as well as
personal notes from department members.
It appears Janet and Paul have an Atari 2600 for sale 😉 ! (Should we tell them they could probably do better than the $15 if they sell it on ebay?) And I love harkening back to the days when we didn’t always use an area code… .
And if you need something, you can always call Johnny…
Or not 😉 .
This just scratches the surface, and I could seriously explore this place ALL. DAY. But hunger, alas, strikes…
Not much has changed here in recent years… burgers, hot dogs, and chicken breast nuggets comprise the bulk of the menu, while vegetarian options include a salad and Grilled Vegetable Sandwich.
When you take a closer look, though, you’ll notice a bit more variety. For instance, the Chicken Breast Nuggets come in the standard style you’ll find in Counter Service restaurants all over Disney World, but you’ll only find the Spicy Buffalo Chicken Breast Nuggets in a few select locations.
It’s pretty much a given that any time this New York girl sees the words “Buffalo Chicken” on a menu, I’m grabbing whatever it is. I love the regular ol’ Chicken Breast Nuggets, too, so this basically combines two of my favorites when you add in the quite-spicy Buffalo sauce.
It comes with your choice of carrot sticks or fries, but I would’ve loved some typical Buffalo dish touches like a blue cheese alongside, and maybe some celery, too, would be a nice touch (it’s worth noting, though, that you can typically find some ranch dressing at the condiments bar). I will say, the sauce does soften some of the nice crunch that comes along with the breading on the nuggets. Which makes them even awesomer.
The 1/3 Pound Angus Onion Straw Bacon Burger topped with horseradish sauce is up next. Just check out the toppings on this one!
Or maybe I shouldn’t call them “toppings,” since you’ll find most of the extras under the patty of this stacked burger.
There’s a reason why you’ll find a lot of fried-onion topped burgers these days: it’s because they’re awesome. And the onion straws featured here are more substantial than the crispy fried onions you’ll find on a lot of other Disney burgers (the French Dip Burger from Electric Umbrella and the Gasparilla Island Grill’s Grand Gaspy Burger come to mind). It’s like getting a whole other side dish along with your meal, and I think the extra buck over the standard cheeseburger here is worth it for the splurge.
But note that Disney counter service burgers often have to rely on their toppings for flavor. The patties are usually pretty overdone, dry, and flavorless. (I actually take a bite of JUST the patty on every burger in the hopes that it will be delicious. It never is.)
Of course, what could go better with a burger than a beer? Or, if you’re my good friend, a hard cider ;)? That’s what you’ll get with the After Burner — it’s Angry Orchard Cider with a shot of cinnamon whiskey, which goes wonderfully with the cider’s apple flavor (it debuted here around the holidays as “Torched Holiday Cider.”)
That’s right… hard cider with even MORE of a kick. What more can I say 🙂 ?
With all that, it was nice to have the Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad along for something a bit lighter: romaine lettuce, red onions, tomato, green peas, and a zinfandel vinaigrette… oh, and cantaloupe and cucumber ;). They’re hard to spot, but they’re in there, I promise — just not in amounts massive enough to actually call this a cantaloupe and cucumber salad.
This is just a simple and refreshing salad. I love the way red onion combines with any kind of fruit (it’s a surprisingly great combo!), and the zinfandel vinaigrette — fruity and herbal at the same time — provides a nice change of pace.
Even with that, I do have one more for you: the Pressed Turkey Club is turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, roasted red pepper, and arugula on multigrain bread.
Yep… more bacon 😉 . Though a lighter touch of it than you’ll find on the burger.
There are two things about this one that differentiate it from your basic turkey sandwich: the bit of zip from the roasted red pepper and the hearty-but-not-too-seedy multigrain bread. The fact that it’s hot-pressed helps, too. Not a showstopper, but decent!
So with some serious detail exploration done and a full tummy, I wrapped up my most recent visit to Backlot Express.
Like I said, Backlot Express remains a favorite thanks to exceptional themeing that really — to me — captures much of the heart of Hollywood Studios. But it’s not only that. With its bit of variety among the standards, it’s also a place I can continue to recommend for the food. And with all the other changes we’ve seen (and presumably will continue to see!) at Hollywood Studios…
… it’s nice to come back to a classic every now and then 🙂 .
Have you dined at Backlot Express? Please let us know about your experience with a comment!