Disney’s Hollywood Studios consistently dazzles its guests with all the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood. This theme park never fails to keep us entertained with innovative and immersive rides and attractions but the real draw, for me at least, is the fantastic dining locations found within these gates. With over 25 dining sites (not even including the food carts!) there is never a shortage of options, yet choosing between them can have you feeling as overwhelmed as Pongo was when he made the final count of 101 puppies. Have no fear! We here at Disney Fanatic love sharing our favorite Disney experiences with you, and this list might just help steer your sights, and those choosy taste buds, in the right direction! Here are our five favorite dining experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
5. Hollywood and Vine
There is nothing small and timid about this all-you-can-eat “Cafeteria to the Stars” buffet restaurant. Great pops of color and large wall murals of old Hollywood and California landmarks surround you with an art-deco influence. A grand array of yummy foods awaits you whether you opt for the breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet. For breakfast or lunch, you even get to mingle with the larger-than-life Disney Junior characters. These characters frequently break into song and encourage little ones (and the young at heart!) to dance with them to familiar tunes like the “Hot Dog Dance” and the theme from The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Breakfast offerings include plates like the classic Mickey waffles with various toppings, frittatas and pancakes. Lunch and dinner both offer a create-your-own-pasta bar as well as uniquely flavored chicken and lobster & shrimp mac and cheese. You MUST save room for dessert! They boast the only chocolate fountain on property, and it is the grand centerpiece to their dessert station. Surrounding this fountain are eye-poppingly delicious hand-crafted cakes, pastries, cookies and other sugary creations. Available to dip (by the chefs) in the flowing fountain of goodness (aka Chocolate Fountain) are various fruits, brownies, marshmallows and other treats. There is also a soft-serve ice cream machine, available to make any treat “a la mode.” There is something for everyone at this restaurant, and the food ranges from classic and familiar plates to more exclusive and high-end dishes, all tasty and freshly prepared. That, coupled with the unique character appearances, makes this place a must-do!
4. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
Buon Appetito! This cutesy Italian restaurant, tucked away in the Backlot area of the theme park, is as “hole-in-the-wall” as you can get for Disney. But let’s face the facts, nothing is hole-in-the-wall here, they just want to give the impression that it is. The fictional backstory of Mama Melrose, and the essence of the atmosphere and theming, surrounds the tale of a young girl from Italy who came to Hollywood for fame and fortune. While waiting for her “big break,” she cooked up her family’s handed-down recipes and because of her big heart, shared the meals with her starving artist friends. Realizing she might just be a better cook than actress, she decided to open up an Italian bistro in an empty warehouse. With the help of her friends, they decorated the eatery with a mishmash of all the Hollywood memorabilia they could collect. Disney does a great job giving you that cozy feeling while dining here, as the dishes are rich and comforting. The quaint tables with the small, white lights strung overhead provide a more intimate and “removed” setting from the busy theme park. Many an Italian classic is enjoyed here like the Penne alla Vodka with Chicken, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and a wide range of fresh and flavorful flatbreads. Their Charred Steak gets rave reviews as well as their indulgently delicious desserts. Next time you visit Hollywood Studios, don’t forget about this “hidden” gem!
3. 50s Prime Time Café
This fun and somewhat kitschy diner has you transported back in time to a 1950s home, awaiting a delicious meal cooked by “momma” herself. The décor and surroundings are really convincing, everything from the gaudy animal knick-knacks to the “wood” paneling to the black and white televisions near the dinner tables providing a great representation of this era. The dishes are hearty, comfort food favorites like fried chicken, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and chicken pot pie. The servers’ boisterous humor provides hearty laughs as they demand that you eat with your elbows off the table and finish your greens! The hand-spun milkshakes? They’re incredible! This place never fails to deliver a great overall experience with fun interaction and satisfying plates.
2. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
Nobody does themed-dining like Disney does, and this place absolutely, without-a-doubt proves my theory (make that, fact!). The ambiance is quite impressive here as you are led to your “convertible car” table which is “parked” in front of a giant movie screen playing hokey mid-century black and white, B-level horror film clips (from movies like The Blob and Attack of the 50-Foot Woman). The spinach and artichoke dip appetizer is superb as well as their lip-smackingly delicious milkshakes. There is also a nice range of options on their menu, offering the obvious burger and fries selections as well as pasta, sandwiches, steak and ribs. This place guarantees a fun experience for every member of your party!
1. The Hollywood Brown Derby
When you dine at this highly popular, signature restaurant you will feel like one of Hollywood’s elite, pampered with exceptional service and outstanding dishes. The restaurant is modeled after the original Hollywood Brown Derby which was frequented by celebrities of Hollywood’s Golden Age, like Bing Crosby, Cary Grant and Lucille Ball. You’ll recognize some famous faces amongst the framed caricatures hanging on the walls of the lobby and dining area. The setting is old-timey elegance, and though this restaurant is a replica of the original, it is probably just as good. Serving guests during lunch or dinner, you can choose from high-end menu items like Crispy Duck Breast and Maple-Glazed Salmon. Owned by Bob Cobb, the original restaurant is purported as the birthplace of the Cobb Salad, so this restaurant is quite famous for their version of this tasty dish. This is also the home of the legendary Grapefruit Cake, a dessert worth saving room for! There is a reason why we almost never miss an opportunity to dine here when we visit Hollywood Studios—you just can’t beat the “wow” factor this place provides!