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. ABC Commissary
  2. Studio Catering Company
  3. Sunset Ranch Market (Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare, Rosie’s All American Cafe and Toluca Turkey Legs).
  4. Backlot Express
  5. Starring Rolls Cafe
  6. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner
  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. In a twist of fate, ABC Commissary actually comes in first, offering unique salads like the Asian or Couscous, Quinoa, and Arugula Salads available either vegetarian or with Salmon or Chicken. It also recently added a New York Strip Steak and Roasted Salmon, in addition to shrimp and fish platters. While those items aren’t entirely unique, they’re rare enough to put ABC at the top. Studio Catering comes in next, offering several pressed sandwiches that aren’t found elsewhere along with a Greek Salad, Sloppy Joe, 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. Backlot Express is similar, though it offers unique takes on the usual with the Buffalo Chicken Nuggets, Southwest Salad with Chicken, and rare Grilled Vegetable Sandwich. Starring Rolls offers a couple of interesting sandwiches on top of all their cupcake goodness, in addition to the same sushi that’s available at most resort quick services. Min & Bill’s drops a lot from its historically high rating, now offering an Italian Sausage in French Bread and a Frankfurter in a Pretzel Roll, in addition to turkey legs and pork shanks.  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 at Animal Kingdom. The only mildly unique item is the (very good) Antipasto Salad.

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

  1. Sunset Ranch Market (Average entree: $10.72, Most expensive entree: $15.69) – Note that this only takes into account Fairfax Fare pricing, which is higher than the other venues that make up the Market.
  2. ABC Commissary ($9.79, $11.99)
  3. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner ($10.42, $11.79)
  4. Backlot Express ($9.27, $10.99)
  5. Toy Story Pizza Planet ($9.56, $10.69)
  6. Starring Rolls Cafe ($9.91, $10.49)
  7. Studio Catering Company ($9.33, $10.49)

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 $15.69 Chicken and Rib Combo. Nothing else is really close with the salmon at ABC Commissary coming in about $4 less, followed by either the turkey leg or pork shank with chips at Min & Bill’s coming in at $11.99.

Best Value Out of Pocket

  1. Starring Rolls Cafe
  2. ABC Commissary
  3. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner
  4. Studio Catering Company
  5. Sunset Ranch Market
  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. ABC Commissary, with its improved menu, has a lot to offer with great salads topped with your choice of chicken or salmon, in addition to a grilled strip steak and roasted salmon. Don’t let previous visits turn you off. For $8 – $9, Min & Bill’s serves unique sandwiches that are less expensive than their counterparts and the popular turkey legs and pork shanks. 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. Backlot Express is largely a collection of the usual burgers, salads, and nuggets, sometimes with unique twists. It will fill you up, but it doesn’t do it with a whole lot of style. Finally, Pizza Planet serves up the usual $10 Disney personal pizzas that are only okay, in addition to the meatball sandwich and very good antipasto salad.

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 3pm or 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. ABC Commissary
  3. Studio Catering Company
  4. Sunset Ranch Market
  5. Toy Story Pizza Planet
  6. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner
  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.  ABC Commissary, with its fresh tossed-to-order salads, steak, and roasted salmon comes in easily in second place. The rest of the Studios’ offerings aren’t particularly stellar.  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. Min & Bill’s isn’t necessarily “bad,” but the menu has fallen off in recent memory, now offering mostly turkey legs and pork shanks. It works, but it’s unlikely to impress compared to the other options. 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. ABC Commissary
  2. Starring Rolls Cafe
  3. Studio Catering Company
  4. Sunset Ranch Market
  5. Toy Story Pizza Planet
  6. Backlot Express
  7. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner

ABC Commissary moves into the top position with a wide range of fresh items and plenty of comfortable, air-conditioned seating. 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 other individual quick services, is right next to the best outdoor bar at the Studios, and offers plentiful outdoor, covered seating. Waits are usually short and seating is plentiful. 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. Backlot Express has a couple interesting options, but it’s mostly standard Disney like burgers and nuggets. On the plus side, it does offer comfortable air-conditioned seating and your drink is refillable at the self-serve stations. Unfortunately, Min & Bill’s has fallen from grace with a menu much shorter than a year ago, now offering the usual turkey leg and pork shank, in addition to a couple portable sandwiches. It’s unlikely the location will satisfy everyone’s needs and the seating is the worst in its class.

{ 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!

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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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