Edit: The site hasn’t been running real well since yesterday evening. It appears to be a problem with the cache on the server. I am trying to get it resolved. Until then, do me a favor and don’t click refresh a lot.
We’ll head out to Hollywood Studios on the afternoon of September 2nd.
The overall crowd level is beefed up to a “six” over the weekend for Labor Day, which is probably a little on the high side. Magic Kingdom was decently crowded today (the 2nd), with Space Mountain topping out at 80 minutes, Big Thunder at 60, Splash at 70, Dumbo at 45, and Buzz at 50 minutes. Epcot was better with Soarin’ hitting 70 minutes though Mission: Space was never more than 20 minutes. Over at Animal Kingdom, Everest hit 40 minutes, Safaris hit 30, and Kali River Rapids topped out at 70 minutes. Not too bad for afternoon highs and about what we can expect from average to slightly above average overall crowds.
Here at 3:30pm, waits are about what you can expect. There’s really never going to be a day with decent weather that Toy Story doesn’t hit 60+ minutes in the afternoon. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees decent waits, but just about everything else is going to be a “walk-on.” In the case of Tower of Terror, it’s an easy FASTPASS or you could wait for closer to Park close when the wait will drop off substantially.
We’ll pick up menu land the only way I know, which is chronologically from the front. There aren’t a ton of meaningful changes, though the menus at Backlot Express and ABC Commissary are quite a bit different. I have no idea what the name of this one is. I call it the “Front of Park Ice Cold Stand.”
And its new, long menu:
Just some price increases.
The R2D2 “souvenir buckets” are a fixture at the Studios. We’re going to see them all over in various sizes and filled with various items. They add about $6 to the price of things.
Over to Starring Rolls Cafe, which is open daily from 9am – 4pm.
They offer two sandwiches along with a nice assortment of baked goods.
Along with the Kids Uncrustables and Power Pack. On the top shelf sit a few items that you’ll see more prominently displayed for Fantasmic in the evening. Chocolate covered strawberries, grapes, and whatnot. And then you’ve got Tiramisu, Brownies, and Yogurt on the bottom shelf.
Along with an assortment of hot and cold beverages.
On the Simply Orange front, they are indeed these small 13.5 ounce containers. Pretty spendy at $3.49.
These pictures aren’t really going to do the treats justice. Starring Rolls is small and dark:
They do run out of the sandwiches and some of the cupcakes later in the day. They appear to be out of the very popular Butterfinger and Red Velvet cupcakes. Those Eclairs for less than three bucks look good.
Over to Sweet Spells on Sunset Boulevard. I don’t have a good picture of this place handy. And I realize this isn’t starting well. Anyway, the new menu:
This is similar to the Confectionery at Magic Kingdom. I’ve never seen a Kermit Apple before!
Here’s a look at half of the case. Most everything should look familiar from the Confectionery.
A little further down is Villains in Vogue, which currently houses Halloween and Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise.
Not the best pose I’ve ever seen from our esteemed Evil Queen.
Luckily we are going to run into the real deal a little later at Characterpalooza.
Okay, this will be just about it for merchandise, I promise. These little Ear Hat Ornaments are new I think. Precious!
Continuing onward, Toluca Legs Turkey Company is the first piece of Sunset Ranch Market you’ll see.
With its menu.
Prior to the menu change before the last menu change (if that makes sense), the menu was a little more varied:
But now it’s just the “Jumbo” version of the Turkey Leg that sprung up at the end of August last year. Don’t worry though, Craisin availability is coming up shortly. On the Turkey Leg front, Toluca has humorously slow service considering they sell exactly one thing.
Up here to Anaheim Produce.
The new menu.
The old menu while we’re here. At least the Pickle is still $1.39.
Sunset Ranch Market is an outdoor food court of sorts. It’s rough sitting out here in the middle of the day from June through just about the end of October. This along with ABC Commissary are the two Studios quick services that you can bank on being open through close. Studio Catering Company closes at 5:30pm and Pizza Planet should close around 8:30pm.
This sign explains what you’re up against. If your family/group has varied tastes, this may be your best option as we’re going to see Burgers, Pizza, BBQ, Salads, etc. Sometimes it can be a little difficult pleasing everyone when the quick service you visit only serves pizza.
We’ll start at Rosie’s All American Diner.
Your burger choices. Disney continues to play up the “fresh” aspect. You’ll notice that the burgers are now “Fresh Angus.” My favorite salad dressing is “Litehouse” brand Salsa Ranch. On the packaging, it states that it’s “made fresh.” I’ve always been amused by this because it’s “literally” impossible to make anything that isn’t fresh. Even if you made me a sandwich with the nastiest, oldest, grungiest ingredients possible, it would still be a fresh sandwich. I realize this probably doesn’t amuse anyone else.
Anyway, here’s the “old” entrees with no mention of fresh preparation. I would guess enough people asked about getting their Onion Straw Burger without the Onions, so a more standard burger is added. And the removal of the Vegetable Burger picture was probably wise.
Somehow the “Soup of the Day” is the same price. The Power Pack is now a formal part of the menu.
As far as Disney Burgers are concerned, the Onion Straw iteration is pretty good with a nice chunky piece of tomato and two slices of pickle.
Over to Catalina Eddie’s, the “Italian” arm of the Ranch.
Those Desserts are now “House-made,” whatever that means. And your Caesar Salad is “Tossed-to-order.”
Surprisingly, pricing hasn’t increased on the Pizzas or Sandwich.
And over to Fairfax Fare, the barbecue joint.
Thankfully, Disney listened to our prayers and didn’t add any new disgusting hot dog toppings. I’ll admit it would have been funny if they had added like 15 new hot dogs with ridiculous toppings just so I had to eat them. One of these days they will. You can check out last year’s debacle if you have the stomach for it here.
The Chicken and Spareribs don’t get as much press here as a similar plate over at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. If you’re on the Dining Plan, this is a meal you may want to seek out as it’s the most expensive quick service entree you’ll find and it’s available all day, unlike Cosmic Ray’s which rolls out its combo only after 4pm. Add the Cake and Fountain Beverage and you’re looking at a meal that exceeds $20.
And finally over to the good stuff closest to Tower of Terror, Hollywood Scoops.
Compared to the old:
Your cookie is now “fresh-baked” and moved to the bottom for a little menu consistency. The Sundae is now a snack credit, though Disney is being jerks and excluding the more decadent options. Guess you’ll have to pay out of pocket for those! That Apple Crisp does sound good.
That sums up Sunset Ranch Market. On to KRNR near Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s exit.
Just some price increases. One amusing mistake is the “Simply Orange” logo next to the Apple Juice price. I have all of the old menus linked here if you’re wondering what they used to look like.
New pricing should look familiar:
The “Souvenir Bucket” is the R2D2.
Over to Min & Bill’s Diner across from American Idol Experience.
It’s no secret(?) that I have a bit of a love affair with Min & Bill’s. Virtually no one seems to know it even exists, despite it being housed inside of a large boat on a lake. The Rolls are all a nice portable option to take with you over to Fantasmic.
My only complaint would be the Caesar Sandwich doesn’t have a ton of chicken in it.
Otherwise you ought to check this place out!
In the first picture you’ll see that Min & Bill’s seating area is picnic benches. If you take your food to the opposite side of the Lake, you’ll find these tables with chairs that have backs. They’re a little more comfortable if your group is two or three people or doesn’t mind sitting at multiple tables.
I carry a Canon 5D Mark III, which is a very capable camera, but my pictures still come out looking pretty dull. The truth is this is more or less what the scene looks like, though the sky is bluer and it’s a little brighter out than it appears.
This is the same picture, edited. “Photography” is a huge scam.
Opposite Min & Bill’s sits Dinosaur Gertie’s ICE CREAM OF EXTINCTION, which is occasionally open.
It’s open from 12pm – 5pm today.
Along with Gertie’s, Peevy’s Polar Pipeline is in sort of an unfortunate location on the back side of Mickey’s of Hollywood. It isn’t a well-trafficked area.
Which usually means short lines, though it can get backed up with just one or two cast members working when it is operating.
Also along here is 50′s Prime Time Cafe.
And Hollywood & Vine. Prime Time menu:
I think this is the first time I’ve seen the menu lack pricing. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports5/50sprime.jpg.
Hollywood & Vine. I’d skip it for dinner.
Oasis Canteen outside of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
Rough pricing on those funnel cakes, though the Waffle Cone is now a snack credit.
Refurbishment walls are popping up around the Studios, this one in front of the-attraction-formerly-known-as-Sounds-Dangerous.
And another one across from Star Tours.
I laughed out loud when I saw Star Tours wait at 120 minutes 4pm.
Four minutes later it was down to a more reasonable 10 minutes. Fat fingers I guess.
FASTPASS was just 40 minutes out as usual.
Backlot Express has a new menu.
And more outdoor seating than it probably needs.
Backlot is testing out an expanded menu. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports5/backlot.jpg. The Kids options seem limited with just the Chicken Nuggets or a smaller version of the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, which continues to sound disgusting. More power to any seven year old interested in a sandwich comprising of “Basil Asiago Artisan Bread, fresh Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Zucchini, Tomato, Watercress, Cheese, and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto.” Gag me with a spoon, as my dad would say.
Along with the Dessert Cup in the smaller R2 unit.
“Desserts from Outer Space” and only the finest in Sutter Home Wines.
Fountain beverages. Along with Restaurantosaurus at Animal Kingdom and Electric Umbrella/Sunshine Seasons at Epcot, the fountain beverage machines are out in the open so you can refill to your heart’s content.
The old menu had just six options.
Interestingly(?) while Fountain Beverage pricing went up a dime elsewhere, pricing stayed the same here and at the other locations that offer refillable stations.
Inside Tatooine Traders next to Star Tours, the Droid Factory seems to be less busy. Visit after 5pm to find shorter lines than the afternoon.
It had been removed because they reportedly ran out of hats.
Stock looks better now.
Colt 45, baby.
For me, Pizza Planet is the single biggest disappointment on property. You think of Pizza Planet from the movie and it’s this awesome place.
Hollywood Studios’ iteration, on the other hand, is not.
However, I had no idea this existed.
It looks like Disney is going to add four pieces of sausage, charge you $1 more, and tell you that you love meat.
I guess they thought prices were high enough already.
You may remember me lamenting the replacement of the Antipasto Salad over at Pizzafari, but it looks like it’s migrated over here to Pizza Planet.
The Antipasto replaces this fairly generic “Pizza Planet Chicken Salad.”
Pizzafari’s version of the Antipasto. The Pizza Planet version sounds like it’s dumbed down quite a bit with no artichoke hearts, peppers, cucumbers, or large hunks of mozzarella.
The Souvenir Cups remain an option.
And Kids Picks in the R2D2.
The Power Pack remains a nice choice for families on the go. The reason they’re offered at the Studios and not the other Parks is because the Studios relies more heavily on shows and these are more easily portable than a burger.
Just in time for two months before Halloween, the Christmas Store was open. The Downtown Disney version is the place to go if you’re hellbent on buying something Christmas-y in September because this store has limited hours/days outside of the holiday season.
New(?) ornaments on display.
Muppet Store has a new round of merchandise. A better look at the Muppet Store can be found in this post.
A few more:
Also in the Muppet Store, more and more Phineas and Ferb merchandise is showing up. This sweatshirt comes complete with a tail and hat.
For 40 bucks.
And this costume comes complete with a full Perry head.
Like the Studios’ other restaurants, Mama Melrose has just one menu that’s served all day. On the Fantasmic Dining Package, you get to select an appetizer and entree. Apparently they bring out a dessert sampler of sorts for dessert. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports5/mama.jpg.
Phineas and Ferb continue greeting nearby. This is only a 15 minute wait or so.
Even with the slightly above average overall crowd level for the holiday, the Studios was refreshingly “un-busy” today. I’ve been looking forward to September for about four months now. We may actually be able to ride something for once! Or in this case, get a picture alongside a couple of inanimate objects with no wait.
Herbie’s Drive-In on the walk to the Lights, Motors, Action! entrance.
With its new menu:
About the same as before.
There’s a lot of chatter about Cars Land coming to Hollywood Studios. To quote the highest level source that this website has access to, there’s a “zero percent chance of that happening.” But I hate rumors. My personal opinion is that Cars Land should stay exclusive to the West Coast. What I want to see is Mickey Mouse Land, where Disney would follow the various forms of Mickey from his creation in 1928 to what we have today. I haven’t put a lot of thought into this, but I would love to see a Steamboat Willie water ride that’s completely in black and white. It would also help introduce a new generation of kids to the principal Disney characters. Mickey and the gang have so much history that seems to be missing from the Parks. A larger Pirates of the Caribbean themed land would also work very well.
Over to Studio Catering Company, which usually closes before the other quick services. Today, it closes at 5:30pm.
The entrees are the same as before. What they look like on the menu:
This is a good quick service option for the Studios. There’s always plenty of seating and it’s a little cooler sitting underneath the fans, even if it’s all outside.
The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich is actually very good though this picture really isn’t doing it any justice.
The Pressed Turkey was good too.
I didn’t care much for my version of the Tuscan Deli, though you may have more luck. This really doesn’t look much like the picture. I must have ordered it without the tomato.
High Octane Refreshments sits adjacent.
Stay away from anything that costs $6.25 in Florida if you’re superstitious, it comes out to $6.66 with the 6.5% sales tax. That’s how much a Blue Moon Draft would run you.
I very rarely order drinks on property since I’m more of a $3 drink guy than a $12 drink guy.
Or overly edited if that’s your preference. This is the Rum Runner, which comes in at the relatively insane $9.75 price point. Somehow it seemed like it was worthwhile. Part due to the heat and part due to the fact there was actually some rum in it. It was also very easily drinkable, unlike some of the other “frozen” drinks that are more like an Icee. It was freezing cold with small pieces of ice in it, but not the Icee consistency. If you’re looking for a $10 drink, this would be a good choice if you like rum.
Cool Set Productions.
Not too bad at Toy Story all things considered. Over summer proper, you’d be looking at 90 to 140 minutes.
Hey Howdy Hey Takeaway across from the Toy Story entrance.
I think I speak for everyone when I say you can keep your “Cowboy Sugar Crunchies.”
A wall up in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean thing that’s coming someday. If it’s any better than a D- “attraction,” I’d be surprised. You remember how bad Prince Caspian was. And a reminder to buy Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on Blu-ray.
Just two or three groups in line for the Oversized Felt Children.
We’ll check out Characterpalooza inside the Animation Building.
The characters came out right at 4:50pm. A Palooza reminder:
Characterpalooza is an unadvertised character meet and greet session that usually features six to ten characters inside the Animation Building. The timing and number of characters depend on when Fantasmic begins.
If Fantasmic isn’t scheduled, characters will appear from 4:50pm to 6:50pm.
- If the first Fantasmic begins before 7:30pm, then Characterpalooza will not occur because the characters will be getting ready for Fantasmic.
- If the first Fantasmic begins at 7:30pm, characters will appear from 4:50pm to 5:10pm.
- If the first Fantasmic begins at 8:00pm, characters will appear from 4:50pm to 5:50pm.
- If the first Fantasmic begins at 8:30pm, characters will appear from 4:50pm to 5:50pm.
- If the first Fantasmic begins at 9:00pm, characters will appear from 4:50pm to 6:30pm.
With the first Fantasmic starting at 8:30pm tonight, we have an hour of characters.
For the first set, it was Goofy.
Mary Poppins and a Penguin.
Along with seeing characters that you may not ordinarily see, lines for the characters are among the shortest you’ll find. Outside of Mickey’s Halloween Party, you’re not going to find Evil Queen. And Pinocchio and Gepetto no longer appear at Magic Kingdom either. Here’s another look at Characterpalooza to get an idea about what to expect from different days. You never know who you’re going to get, though Mary Poppins and Pinocchio seem to be very common. There will be another set in 20 or 30 minutes, so you want to stick around to see who else might come out next. Make sure you check out the entirety of the area as well. That’s Evil Queen in a pretty random corner.
Lines are shorter at The Incredibles, Sorcerer Mickey, and Winnie the Pooh in here as well, making it a good time to visit the staple characters.
This Pretzel cart sits near the exit to Great Movie Ride near the Sorcerer’s Hat.
Doesn’t look like Mickey Pretzels have made their way over here yet.
ABC Commissary is where we’re going to see the most changes. Its new menu with my ominous reflection:
Compared to the old:
A few changes.
The Chicken Curry is off the menu, which is sure to make Matt at StudiosCentral.com very sad. This was actually pretty good and quite a bit different than most Disney quick service items. The rice was hit or miss, but the curry was good for being quick service Disney.
This is the new Seafood Platter ($9.19), which was sort of sad looking. You couldn’t build a much blander scene. Otherwise, it’s what you can expect from Disney fried fish and shrimp. I’m not too fond of their Fish here or at Columbia Harbour House. It’s much better at Yorkshire Fish at Epcot or Cooke’s of Dublin in Downtown Disney.
You can opt to add Salmon or Chicken to your Asian Salad ($10.19), which is also a nice fresh choice. That’s a sesame ginger dressing to put on top.
And the Couscous, Quinoa, & Arugula Salad with Salmon ($10.79). This one is kind of hard to describe. Along with the advertised ingredients, there’s also cucumber, red onions, kalamata olives, and a piece of lemon included. It was good and had a “very interesting” flavor to it. That’s a hearty piece of perfectly good salmon on top, adding a nice bit of protein to the dish. You can also order it “plain” or with the chicken you see on top of the Asian salad. So the next time someone tries to tell you Disney dining is nothing but Burgers and Nuggets, you can tell them about your Couscous Salmon salad. This is a nice, seemingly healthy dish that isn’t just a simple chicken salad. Recommended.
The Shrimp-Topped-Burger is kind of silly. And it has a kind-of-icky Thousand Island Dressing on it that they don’t tell you about.
And we’ll round things out with this kind-of-sad Chicken Blue. If it’s one thing Disney doesn’t do well, it’s their Grilled Chicken Sandwiches. The chicken always seem dry, the buns are bland and stale, and the portion is on the small side.
Wait times at 5:10pm with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster FASTPASS return out to 6:30pm – 7:30pm. Over the summer, they’d be gone.
Oh, here’s the Brown Derby menu:
And American Idol Experience songs:
I think that sums it up.