Best Hollywood Studios Sit Down Table Service Restaurants Disney World
Most of Hollywood Studios’ dining focuses on theme and fun over fancy ingredients and hoity-toity presentations. To some extent, the exception is Hollywood Brown Derby, a signature restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard that specializes in roast duck and filet mignon instead of hamburgers and sandwiches. Fortunately, many of the Studios’ historically below-average to average restaurants have improved in recent memory, and there are actually some bargains to be found at several of the restaurants. Take a look at the following categories and decide which is the best fit for your group.
Most Unique Menu
Brown Derby gets the nod here and in just about any category that doesn’t factor in price. The menu is full of exclusive items like blue lump crab spring rolls, porcini powder-dusted pork tenderloin, crispy duck beast, and a whole lot more. Mama Melrose’s menu isn’t particularly unique, but it does offer several flatbread variations all under $15, which you won’t find at many sit-down restaurants. There’s also items like saltimbocca, seafood arrabbiata, and shrimp campanelle that you won’t find in many other places. Believe it or not, there are not a whole lot of places to get comfort food in Disney sit-down restaurant, and Prime Time’s fried chicken, pot roast, and deconstructed chicken pot pie are all relatively rare. Sci-Fi primarily offers burgers and sandwiches that are similar to other menus, but there are some unique things too, like the fried dill pickles, reuben, and house-smoked ribs. Hollywood & Vine is your typical Disney buffet with largely generic items.
Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Disney Dining Plan
Table service meals don’t include the non-alcoholic beverage, which increases the value of each $3-$5.
1. Mama Melrose’s (Average Entrée Cost $19.53, Average Dessert Cost $5.75, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $33, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $6.49, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert $39.49)
2. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Average Entrée Cost $18.33, Average Dessert Cost $7.50, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $32, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $8, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert $40)
3. 50’s Prime Time Café (Average Entrée Cost $19.32, Average Dessert Cost $5.76, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $24, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.49, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert $31.49)
4. Hollywood and Vine (Adult Breakfast: $29, Child Breakfast: $16, Adult Lunch: $32, Child Lunch: $17, Adult Dinner: $32, Child Dinner: $17)
5. Hollywood Brown Derby (Two Credits) (Average Entrée Cost $33.50, Average Dessert Cost $10, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $45, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $12, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert $57.00 / two credits = $28.50)
At first glance, Hollywood Brown Derby is obviously the most expensive restaurant. However, it costs two table service credits, whereas the other choices only cost one. Therefore, we’ll halve the cost of the most expensive meal, to get an actual cost of only $28.50 per table service credit. This is even less than breakfast at Hollywood and Vine, which is why Brown Derby is in the fifth position. The most expensive meal is found at Mama Melrose’s, provided you order the $33 steak entrée. Otherwise, most of the entrées are $20 or less and the flatbread pizzas are only $13-$15 each. Sci-Fi has the second most expensive entrée on the list, a $32 steak, but also the lowest average entrée cost. 50’s Prime Time Café has the least expensive “most expensive entrée,” which drops it to third, but it also has the second most expensive average entrée cost. Hollywood & Vine is actually one of the less expensive character buffets for lunch or breakfast with prices about $10 less than Chef Mickey’s. But when you consider the other prices don’t include a beverage, the value of H&V drops even further.
Note that during Star Wars Weekends from May 4th and expected to continue daily through June 14th 2015, Sci-Fi Dine-In offers a Star Wars themed breakfast and Hollywood & Vine changes to a Star Wars theme at dinner only. More info on pricing and availability here: http://www.easywdw.com/news/star-wars-weekends-2015-dates-confirmed-and-character-meals-available-for-booking-from-may-4th/.
Best Value Out of Pocket
1. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
2. 50’s Prime Time Cafe
3. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
4. Hollywood Brown Derby
5. Hollywood and Vine
With its fun theme and relatively inexpensive menu featuring sandwiches and burgers under $17, Sci-Fi is your most interesting bet. You could make a strong argument that 50′s Prime Time is the rightful heir, but the popular dishes seem to be prepared in the kitchen long before anyone orders them, reducing quality. The atmosphere still charms most guests in on the joke. Mama Melrose is also a close third with several very good flatbrads arriving under $15. Small, frozen, personal-size pizzas at Pizza Planet next door would run you around $10 each, increase Melrose’s value. The higher priced entrees may disappoint, but offer additional value on the Dining Plan. Brown Derby is an expensive proposition out of pocket and I think most visitors will find more value in ambiance and food quality at one of the resort signatures. While it’s billed as a fancy restaurant, the theme park dress of nearly every guest eliminates much of the grandeur of the space. Brown Derby is not a bad restaurant by any means, but keep in mind that more upscale experiences for your money exist if that’s what you’re looking for. Hollywood & Vine may still be a good value for the Disney Jr. set if you’re interested in the character interaction, particularly with Doc McStuffins, who doesn’t meet elsewhere.
1. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
2. 50’s Prime Time Café
3. Hollywood Brown Derby
4. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
5. Hollywood and Vine
Both Sci-Fi and 50’s Prime Time feature a fun setting you won’t find anywhere else, Disney or otherwise. Sci-Fi, with its car-themed seating, starry skies, and B-movie film clips gets the nod over 50’s Prime Time Café’s 1950s-themed diner. There are a few caveats about the top two choices though. Sci-Fi is dark and may be difficult for people with vision problems to see the menu or where they’re walking, whether it be to the table or the bathroom. Expect to be teased at 50’s Prime Time Café. Your waiter or waitress, known as “mom” or “dad,” may force you to eat your vegetables, tell you to keep your elbows off the table, and make you prepare your own place setting. If you don’t have a sense of humor or would prefer for your waiter to do little more than bring food and fill glasses, then 50’s Prime Time may not be your best choice. Hollywood Brown Derby’s setting is a bit out of place. Although it tries to be upscale, with the staff wearing tuxedos and the elegant surroundings, it’s a bit strange considering most of the guests are wearing flip flops, Mickey ears, and neon colored shorts. Suffice to say, Brown Derby isn’t as immersive as Sci-Fi or 50’s Prime Time and some people may be turned off by the faux-pretentiousness. Mama Melrose provides a casual atmosphere for casual Italian dining, punctuated by the Christmas lights that offer ambient light and fun vintage pictures of Mickey, Walt, and friends. It’s a cute place, but not necessarily an atmosphere worth going out of your way to visit. Hollywood and Vine is last on this list as well, with an unremarkable ice cream parlor theme.
1. Hollywood Brown Derby
2. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
3. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
4. 50’s Prime Time Café
5. Hollywood & Vine
Bite for bite, you’ll find the best food at Hollywood Brown Derby. While it might not be worth the cost, there’s no denying that the food is more carefully prepared and uses higher quality ingredients than the other Studios’ restaurants. Sci-Fi comes in second with very good sandwiches and burgers, in addition to more expensive entrees that have improved in quality. The appetizers are also more innovative than the other restaurants. Mama Melrose comes in third, primarily for its flatbread pizzas that are executed consistently well. Pastas and some of the other more expensive dishes tend to be inconsistent and lower quality than food at higher-ranked restaurants. 50′s Prime Time tends to operate more like a factory than a restaurant with the kitchen continually making entrees whether or not anyone actually ordered them. This tends to cause some food to sit and other times come out far too quickly. It’s unlikely that Prime Time will be a major disappointment, but don’t go expecting high quality, freshly prepared food. H&V is last again with a mediocre spread of generic buffet dishes. A few occasionally stand out and everyone should leave satisfied, but it’s unlikely to impress considering the cost.
Overall Best Sit Down Table Service Restaurant at the Hollywood Studios
Sci-Fi climbs the ladder and arrives in first place. Its unique atmosphere is hard to overstate and the prices for the sandwiches and burgers are just a couple dollars more than inferior quick service in all directions. 50′s Prime Time is similarly unique and comes in second. With no entrees coming in over $25, bills are a little easier to swallow considering food quality. Mama Melrose is very good too, particularly if the group is in the mood for pizza. It drops because of a slightly lesser atmosphere than the top two choices. The more expensive entrees are also inconsistent in quality. Brown Derby does what it tries to do very well, but it’s awfully expensive. Finally, those seeking fun character meals should look no further than Hollywood & Vine, but most guests will prefer to look elsewhere for dinner. Anybody not interested in the characters would do better elsewhere.