Best Hollywood Studios Quick Counter Service Disney World

by josh on December 12, 2012

Hollywood Studios is not known for its quick service food, but there are reliably good options at several locations.  Let’s take a look:

Most Unique Menu

  1. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner
  2. Studio Catering Company
  3. Sunset Ranch Market (Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare, Rosie’s All American Cafe and Toluca Turkey Legs).
  4. Starring Rolls Cafe
  5. ABC Commissary
  6. Backlot Express
  7. Toy Story Pizza Planet

Ranking menu uniqueness is kind of difficult because many of the items are unique interpretations of Disney’s usual sandwich and burger fare. Min & Bill’s offers two “sandwiches” that are entirely unique, in addition to three unique bread cones.  Studio Catering comes in first, offering several pressed sandwiches that aren’t found elsewhere along with a Greek Salad and Chicken Caesar Wrap.  Sunset Ranch Market as one entity offers a ton of options, but most of them can be found elsewhere. Still, you’ll find unique salads, burgers, and hot dogs here. Starring Rolls offers a couple of interesting sandwiches on top of all their cupcake goodness.  When Disney updated ABC Commissary’s menu in August 2012, they added a Quinoa Salad with Chicken or Salmon that’s unique, in addition to the Asian Salad and a couple burger options that aren’t available elsewhere.  Backlot Express is mostly Disney staples, though the addition of buffalo sauce to the nuggets and bacon and onion straws to the burger class things up a bit.  The sandwiches and salads are also a little different than what’s served up elsewhere.  Finally, Toy Story Pizza Planet offers Disney pizza that is the same as Catalina Eddie’s on the other side of the Park in addition to Pizzafari.

Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Dining Plan

  1. Sunset Ranch Market (Average entree: $9.97, Most expensive entree: $15.19) – Note that this only takes into account Fairfax Fare pricing, which is higher than the other venues that make up the Market.
  2. Toy Story Pizza Planet ($9.44, $10.69)
  3. Backlot Express ($8.73, $10.49)
  4. Starring Rolls Cafe ($10.19, $10.19)
  5. ABC Commissary ($10.02, $10.19)
  6. Studio Catering Company ($8.98, $10.19)
  7. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner ($9.05, $9.99)

Sunset Ranch Market’s average pricing would be lower if Catalina Eddie’s, Toluca Legs, and Rosie’s All American Diner were factored in, but it still offers the most expensive entree with the $15.19 Chicken and Rib Combo.

Best Value Out of Pocket

  1. Starring Rolls Cafe
  2. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner
  3. Studio Catering Company
  4. Sunset Ranch Market
  5. ABC Commissary
  6. Backlot Express
  7. Toy Story Pizza Planet

Starring Rolls offers large, tasty sandwiches for a similar amount of money than you’d spend elsewhere.  They also serve an abundance of gigantic desserts, including the popular Butterfinger Cupcake.  For $7 – $9, Min & Bill’s serves unique sandwiches that are less expensive than their counterparts.  With no wait and plenty of outdoor seating, it’s a quick, easy, and portable way to grab a bite.  Studio Catering Company sells sandwiches with a generous helping of fries that are better than most other locations.  Sunset Ranch Market is mostly a collection of the usual Disney food, but they prepare it better than most and it’s generally some of the more interesting options, particularly at Fairfax Fare.  ABC Commissary has improved with the addition of the Quinoa Salad and the option to add chicken or salmon on top, but it’s still generally lacking in the burger category.  Finally, Pizza Planet serves up the usual $10 Disney pizzas that aren’t great.

Best Seating

  1. Backlot Express
  2. ABC Commissary
  3. Toy Story Pizza Planet
  4. Studio Catering Company
  5. Starring Rolls Cafe
  6. Sunset Ranch Market
  7. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner

Backlot Express ekes out a small victory here under the “best seating” category.  It offers what is usually enough indoor seating that’s richly themed.  There’s also a ton of outdoor seating, most of which is covered in front of the restaurant, along with another section that overlooks the Jedi Training Academy show.  ABC Commissary is where you’ll find the most air-conditioned seating, though the setting may be described as bland and it gets noisy when it’s crowded.  Toy Story Pizza Planet offers more subdued seating upstairs along with patio tables.  Tables downstairs in the arcade sit in what’s often loud surroundings.  Of the outdoor venues, Studio Catering Company has a huge, covered seating area that usually feels cooler than the other outdoor options. It’s also less crowded, affording a bit more privacy.  Starring Rolls is another easy place to find outdoor seats, though they’re mostly uncovered.  Sunset Ranch Market’s shared seating is often full of people and the bench seating is not particularly comfortable.  Coming in last, Min & Bill’s virtually always has availability, but the picnic benches are uncomfortable and you’re at the mercy of the weather with only umbrellas covering some of the tables.

Food Availability

  1. ABC Commissary
  2. Sunset Ranch Market
  3. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner
  4. Toy Story Pizza Planet
  5. Backlot Express
  6. Studio Catering Company
  7. Starring Rolls Cafe

This might seem like an odd category, but Hollywood Studios is fairly unique in the fact that many of its counter service locations close prior to dinner.  For example, don’t be surprised if Toy Story Pizza Planet, Backlot Express, and Studio Catering Company close at or before 6pm.  In addition, Starring Rolls routinely closes at 4pm and may run out of sandwiches in the early afternoon.  Be sure to pay attention to your schedule so you aren’t stuck at the ABC Commissary.  ABC Commissary and Sunset Ranch Market reliably stay open until Park close, but that’s often the only two, causing lines at Sunset Ranch Market (near Fantasmic) in particular to be long after 7pm when there are few other options.

Best Food

  1. Starring Rolls Cafe
  2. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner
  3. Studio Catering Company
  4. Sunset Ranch Market
  5. Toy Story Pizza Planet
  6. ABC Commissary
  7. Backlot Express

Starring Rolls is the clear winner, serving large, freshly-made sandwiches and delicious desserts.  It’s also the place to go for breakfast.  The rest of the Studios’ offerings aren’t particularly stellar.  I like Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner, which is a jewel in the rough so to speak.  The Frankfurter in a Pretzel Roll is quite good and less expensive than most other entrees, particularly when you request the entree only to save $2 on the bag of chips.  Studio Catering Company is reliable, though their sandwiches often have a disappointing amount of “stuff” inside them.  Most of Sunset Ranch Market’s fare is typical Disney, though the Hot Italian Deli Sandwich at Catalina Eddie’s and barbecued items at Fairfax Fare are quite good.  The Fairfax Salad is also a notch above most others.  Not everyone likes Disney pizza, but for a theme park serving thousands a day, they do a decent job.  Pizza at Pizza Planet is the same as Pizzafari or Catalina Eddie’s.  ABC Commissary has improved a lot with the addition of new salads, but the burgers here are almost always overcooked and the seafood choices aren’t as good as Columbia Harbour House.  Serving up typical Disney nuggets, burgers, and hot dogs, Backlot Express rounds out the list.  The food isn’t terrible by any means, but I don’t think it’s better than any of the other options.

Overall Best Counter Service at the Hollywood Studios

  1. Starring Rolls Cafe
  2. Studio Catering Company
  3. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner
  4. Sunset Ranch Market
  5. Toy Story Pizza Planet
  6. ABC Commissary
  7. Backlot Express

If you’re in the market for a sandwich, Starring Rolls is your best bet with easy ordering and decently comfortable outdoor seating.  They also offer up a ton of treats that are almost universally better than other options.  Studio Catering Company gets a bit of a bump because it has a more diverse menu than Min & Bill’s.  Waits are usually short and seating is plentiful.  If one of Min & Bill’s sandwiches or bead cones soun good, it’s also a very good choice.  There’s almost never anyone in line and the sandwiches are a couple of dollars less expensive than a lot of other options.  Together, Sunset Ranch has a huge menu, but you’ll need to wait in numerous lines if everyone isn’t interested in ordering from the same place.  And the outdoor seating leaves something to be desired, particularly in the hot summer.  Pizza Planet offers typical Disney pizza, but the atmosphere is a bit of a disappointment if you’re expecting anything that resembles the movie.  You can also get similar food at several other locations.  At the bottom are two of Disney’s larger venues.  Both serve up average food at best, though Disney is doing an admirable job of adding new, fresher choices.  ABC Commissary still offers stale burgers and sandwiches in a bland setting.  Backlot Express has a couple interesting options, but it’s mostly standard Disney.  On the plus side, both offer comfortable air-conditioned seating and your drink at Backlot is refillable.

No matter where you go, you should be able to find at least one decent entree in a comfortable setting.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea February 14, 2013 at 7:07 pm

On a february 2013 visit to WDW HS, i had the quinoa salad with salmon at abc commissary… It was delicious!!! So fresh and tasty after lots of sandwiches + fries from other parks. I found your site because I was trying to google the recipe… Try it!

Reply

mike March 26, 2013 at 4:00 am

Really the worst park for counter service. So. I usually do 2 table service one at 50s and one at mama Melrose

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