As mentioned in the last general Hollywood Studios update, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant saw some recent menu changes, so I thought it would be prudent to stop in and give a couple new items a try.
The website has historically advocated in favor of Sci-Fi.
The atmosphere is unique, dark, and relaxing. If you’re tired of the in-laws, each row only seats two adults facing towards the screen, so you should be able to achieve some amount of peace and quiet, at least with the exception of all of the other guests. And menu pricing is on the low end with nine of the twelve entrees arriving under $20.
Remember that ABC Commissary moves to this menu beginning at 4pm.
For $1.50 more than the fast food salmon, you can pick up an intelligent salmon salad at Sci-Fi. One of Sci-Fi’s specialty burgers would run you $4 more than the Commissary.
We started with what may be my best food photo of all-time at Sci-Fi in the $9 “Boneless Chicken Wings – Your choice of Spicy Buffalo, Chipotle Barbecue, or Sweet Chili Sauce served with Celery Sticks and Blue Cheese Dressing.”
We went with the Sweet Chili Sauce, which ended up being the same that was used for a time at Oasis Canteen. And Disney typically does a nice job with their nuggets…er…”boneless chicken wings.” They’re lightly breaded, meaty, and have a nice crunch with no grease or oil residue whatsoever. The sauce here really livened them up with an acute spiciness up front that is immediately tempered by a sweet aftertaste. Sci-Fi’s entree portions are large enough that an appetizer is probably superfluous, particularly when said appetizer is also deep-fried, but an order may help tide you and a buddy over until the burger arrives.
My luck with pictures ceased immediately as we have the $16.50 “Chili Lime Salmon Fajita Salad – Mixed Greens tossed with Roasted Corn, Peppers, Onions, Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette topped with crispy Tortilla Chips and House-made Avocado Green Goddess Dressing.”
The salad is somewhat “deconstructed” with the various ingredients appearing by themselves in a circle around the bowl. This made eating it a little more difficult than I was expecting because Sci-Fi is so dark and you can’t really see how good of a mixing job you’re doing. You are probably less inept than me though and won’t have as much trouble. Otherwise, there was a ton of stuff in the bowl with the diced avocado being a welcome surprise with its creaminess contrasting nicely with the crunch of the other vegetables and the tortilla strips in particular. On the downside, the dressing was incredibly bland and considering “chili lime” is highlighted in the name of the dish, those flavors were completely absent. I think the squirt on top of the salmon is it and that obviously doesn’t do much to carry over to the rest of the salad. On the plus side, the salmon was sizable, tender, and appropriately flaky. While it’s assuredly frozen, you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on that fact. Overall, it was filling and satisfying; I just wish the dressing had more of a punch of flavor.
Tom ordered the $19 “Drive-In BBQ Burger – Our Signature Blend of Beef, BBQ Spice, Brioche Bun, House-made BBQ Sauce, Bacon, and Cheddar served with Crispy-fried Jalapeño and Onion Straws.” It was a proficient burger – better than your standard “angus” you’d find at the likes of Backlot Express. The barbecue sauce had a really nice tang that contrasted nicely with the spiciness of the jalapenos and the crunch of the onion straws. The bun was toasted well with a nice crunch and a soft bite and managed to do an admirable job of holding everything together. Very good overall, though I had put together a similar burger a couple of weeks prior with the “Build-Your-Own Angus Burger” that used to be offered. This was considerably better though.
I like Sci-Fi’s thick-cut steak fries a lot – golden and crispy with plenty of salt.
My favorite dessert here is sharing a milkshake, which is a nice, relatively light, sweet, and satisfying way to end a meal for about $3 per person. Of course, you may be more on vacation than I am and instead opt for the shake during your meal.
I’m surprised sometimes at what drinks Disney neglects to mention are available until after the meal, so take note if any sound good alongside a burger.
Uncensored at your own risk: http://www.easywdw.com/reports14/not_the_most_attractive_dessert_ive_ever_seen.jpg
On the recommendation of our server, we tried the $7.50 “Out-of-This-World Turtle Cheesecake – with Heath Bar, Pecans, Chocolate Chips, Caramel Sauce, and topped with Whipped Cream,” which reminded me a lot of a lighter version of Liberty Tree Tavern’s Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake. In that respect, it might be disappointing if you’re looking for a really dense cheesecake, but I thought the lighter base with all of the sweetness from the Heath Bar and caramel sauce went a long way. The pecans and chocolate chips added a crunchy texture that tasted really good with the creaminess of the whipped cream. I was thoroughly impressed.
Overall, I think Sci-Fi Dine-In is a relaxing, fun time at prices that are well below Disney-average. I’d take it over one of the Studios’ many ho-hum quick service options any day of the week.
Our meal on June 2nd also coincided with the first day that The Music of Pixar Live! was added to the FastPass+ system as a Tier 1 selection. That puts it up against Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Great Movie Ride, Fantasmic, and Beauty and the Beast, of which you can only select one experience in advance. Obviously, few people are going to select a 45-minute orchestral performance over a 90-second roller coaster featuring Aerosmith, which means the show is typically available as a 4th or subsequent FastPass+ selection well into the afternoon.
This picture doesn’t really help, nor does it accurately show where each section starts and ends, but it is at least a picture of the stage. As you look towards the performers, FastPass+ fills the entire left hand section of the theater, in addition to the first three rows of the center section. In the center section, Dining Package users fill in from the fourth row back until the crew pit. Then standby is located behind the tech people. The far right section is all standby. Standby also fills the elevated bleachers in the very back of the stadium. This picture was taken at 6:07pm, which is 38 minutes before the start of the second show. We are the first people to arrive in FastPass+, while two rows of Dining Package users have already filled in down below. That’s the thing about Dining Package users – despite having a reserved section, they still arrive incredibly early, because they really want to see the show.
But while the Dining Package may not save you time and your seat may be similar to FastPass+, it could still save you money. I have a review of the Mama Melrose experience from a couple of weeks ago, here, in case you missed it.
I also have a detailed review of Pixar Live! here.
And after seeing the show a second time, my conclusions are largely the same.
80% of the character appearances are going to fall flat for adults, while at the same time not doing enough to keep the kids engaged.
On the other hand, The Up montage is fantastic.
But with its 45 minute duration, it’s at least 15 minutes too long to hold the attention of at least 75% of the people watching.
But there’s no sense hating on limited-run, live shows with too much vigor. Those that appreciate symphony music and have a familiarity with Pixar movies will love the show. Everyone else will be looking at their watch and/or trying to calm down restless children.
In a bit of a surprise move, Disney added a new projection show called, “Disney Movie Magic,” which is scheduled 30 minutes before the start of the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular fireworks.
It’s a pretty neat show and sort of a freebie in that you can enjoy it while waiting for Galactic Spectacular to start.
I recommend arriving 45 minutes before Star Wars Galactic Spectacular.
That way, you have about 15 minutes until the projections start.
Then the 10-minute projection show.
Then another 20 minutes to wait until the fireworks start.
And while many of the main montages feature some of the more popular recent franchises, you’ll see some relatively obscure references to “The Apple Dumpling Gang,” “That Black Cat,” and “The Rocketeer.”
The Walt Disney scenes carry particular power. Overall, I’d budget the time to experience the projection show if you’re planning on seeing Galactic Spectacular. If you’re not, it may not be worth the time in and of itself, particularly when you consider that wait times at most attractions will be nonexistent at this time of night with Fantasmic and Star Wars Fireworks pulling so many people away.
Overall, it’s two nice additions to the Studios this summer. Pixar Live! may not be perfect, but its intended demographic will fall in love with the performance. Disney Movie Magic is a nice add too and should help entertain guests waiting for the main event.