We’ll set out to Hollywood Studios on a couple of afternoons last week.
Disney took to Facehook to announce that Wreck-It-Ralph would begin greeting guests “tomorrow” on October 25th. Of course this wasn’t true as his first day has always been October 28th. Very little of what you see from Disney’s social media department is rooted in facts these days – whether it’s purposeful misinformation or simple incompetence. I still remember the television commercials for Tower of Terror that had me certain it was a standing attraction when I was but a boy. If you relied on Disney’s promotional department, you’d believe all kinds of crazy things. From expecting to meet Mickey & Minnie in front of the Haunted Mansion dressed up during the Halloween Party to I don’t even know.
But as of the 28th, Ralph greets guests inside the Animation Building at Winnie the Pooh’s old spot. It would be Sorcerer Mickey to the left and Mr. Incredible/Frozone one floor up on the right.
Like Pooh, the queue winds behind the Meet.
The queue is slightly interactive.
Kids can touch the screens in case they’re running low on germs.
Why’d it have to be bugs?
People seem to be excited about the “8-bit soundtrack” playing as well as the signage:
Of course, not being dorky whatsoever, I have no idea what any of this means. Okay, the “Halo Delayed – Flood” is funny. And the Contra one. And Mortal Kombat II. And most of them.
The characters do quite a bit of interacting, despite not being particularly chatty. Vanellope von Shweetz signs autographs, but Ralph is too busy wrecking things. Currently, the characters greet from 10:30am – 1:30pm and 2:40pm – 6:30pm continuously.
I ended up waiting 25 minutes despite a short-ish looking line at 5:20pm. These characters appear to be more popular than Winnie the Pooh. They are undoubtedly cute, even if you have no idea who they are. I wouldn’t prioritize these guys over the Toy Story characters or Phineas & Ferb. With Fantasmic currently scheduled at 7:30pm, Characterpalooza runs from 4:50pm to 5:10pm. I’d get in line for these guys immediately after Palooza, then The Incredibles, and then Mickey Mouse, who normally concludes Meets at 7:30pm. If you have someone in your party willing to wait in the Wreck-It line while the rest of the group meets the Characterpalooza characters, that would work well. It’s easy enough for the group to reconvene in the queue. And rest assured that everyone behind you in line loves that.
My favorite crack in the concrete is under refurbishment. I WANT A REFUND!
I’ve given up the bushes. Prefer the wheat.
Rewinding a few days, the Studios was quite busy on Friday October 26th.
This is around 11:45am.
Wait times weren’t crazy yet, but Star Tours is going to have a posted 50 minute wait later, which is about as long as it gets over there.
While probably 30 minutes over exaggerated, the line for Toy Story Mania spills outside. Crowds are this heavy for a few reasons. Local schools had the day off. The Studios had closed at 6pm two days earlier in the week with no Fantasmic shows scheduled either night. And the Mickey’s Party over at Magic Kingdom, the only recommended Park that day, isn’t attracting a lot of people.
What I call the spider angels are up on the Streets of America. Pretty turned on. Creepy while off.
Signifying that the Osborne Lights are ready to go.
The first date is November 9th. Please note there is no ‘u’ in “Osborne.” This is not a Sharon and Ozzy thing.
Does it mean Cars Land is coming to Hollywood Studios? You can still put me down for a “No.” Speaking of which, Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm for four billion seemed to come out of nowhere. And what a price! Had I known four billion would have bought the entire Star Wars universe, I would have dusted off one of my AMEX cards. On top of that, Disney gets Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound and LucasArts. Disney is planning to release a new Star Wars movie in 2015. You’ve got to think that one’s going to gross 1.5 billion worldwide. Not to mention billions in merchandise, home sales, and the movies that are expected to follow in 2017 and 2019. And did you say theme park attractions? One would think it’s in the cards, though I wouldn’t expect an announcement any time soon. Disney wants to plug New Fantasyland as much as possible and they aren’t in the business of giving people reasons to delay their vacation. I bet Universal feels silly about their Transformers announcement in a few days. It would be even more fun if they’re up right now preparing an additional announcement on Harry Potter 2.0. Star Wars is probably the only property that could touch Harry Potter as far as fan base, merchandise sales, and theme park possibilities. And I’d venture to say that it exceeds Potter, especially if the new movies are fresh. It’s going to be an interesting five or so years here.
Lunch today is avec the Milz family. You may remember them from Akershus fame.
The menu is on the less expensive side, which isn’t evident from the menu outside the restaurant that is apparently sans pricing. Luckily, the menu is available here at DisneyWorld.com should you wish to peruse it. Like the other Studios restaurants, there’s just one menu for lunch and dinner. Considering a pizza from Pizza Planet runs nearly $10, the $13 – $14 Flatbreads are pretty reasonable and the other entrees aren’t outrageously expensive.
Mama Melrose is also available on the Fantasmic Dining Package, where you’ll choose an appetizer and entree along with the “Chef’s Selection” Dessert plate.
Inside, the restaurant may or may not feel like a family Italian restaurant.
Disney describes it as, “a colorful, casual and family-friendly restaurant located in the heart of the backlot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.”
“Tacky” may or may not be more accurate.
Count the number of burned out Christmas lights and get back to WDWMAGIC.
Don’t see any? I’m sure we’ll find something to complain about. I’m getting angry just thinking about things to complain about!
A drink might help.
Yes, a drink. This is the sangria, which is just bottled Eppa. A Caraffe runs $28 and is enough to fill three glasses that look like this with a little left over. Otherwise, wine pricing is as insane as usual. A 750ml bottle of the Eppa would run around $11 in stores if you end up liking it. It’s decent, but nothing special since it’s widely available. You’d think they would make their own since Disney’s website touts “Mama’s sangria.” But you know, mama is getting old and that bottled stuff ain’t bad.
Another perk of table service lunch is the bread, which is plentiful and served warm.
Accompanied by mostly tasteless oil and pepper.
As usual, I was seated facing the wall. Forever alone. Which I’m now going to call flying Han Solo.
Speaking of things to complain about, would you look at all this graffiti!
And Disney does nothing to clean it! I may not renew my Annual Pass!
At least they have pictures with Italian-looking-people and Mickey.
And a wood fire grill that probably burns about half the Flatbreads that are sent out.
Potentially less often with this watchful eye.
Otherwise, the restaurant could probably be described as “cute and “fun.” Tables aren’t packed together like some restaurants, which is nice.
Despite a peak reservation time of 12:20pm, we were seated in just a minute or two. Never any guarantees though.
The “Seafood Arrabbiata” has recently replaced the “Cioppino.” The Cioppino was described as, “Fresh clams, shrimp, calimari and mussels tossed with fregola pasta and a flavorful tomato seafood sauce.” The Arrabbiata is “Shrimp, Mussels, Calamari, Fish of the Day, and Whole-Wheat Spaghetti tossed with spicy Seafood Sauce.” So more or less the same. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The sauce was slightly spicy, but certainly nothing overwhelming. Most of the heft came from the large portion of spaghetti underneath the seafood, but there’s a decent amount of the good stuff too. Two large shrimp, some Mahi Mahi, a half dozen mussels, and the calamari rings. It’s certainly more interesting than your run-of-the-mill pasta.
Steve opted for what looks to be the “Carne D’ Italia Flatbread with Pepperoni, House-made Sausage, Pancetta, and spicy Marinara Sauce – 13.99. No complaints there.
And Peggy went for the “Wild Mushroom Flatbread – Roasted Cremini and Button Mushrooms with a Garlic-Shallot Spread and finished with Balsamic Reduction – 12.99. This was described as having a “lot of fungus.” I wouldn’t disagree. I’ll list the Milz(‘s) interject with additional thoughts if they have them and another thanks for lunch. And don’t tell the kids they were here.
Overall, Mama Melrose is a nice choice if you’re looking to get off your feet in more comfortable surroundings than most quick services. For not a whole lot more money than your prototypical Disney Burger or Nuggets, you can order something a little more interesting. Since Mama Melrose accepts Tables in Wonderland, lunch or dinner here is going to be about the same price as Pizza Planet. A no brainer in my book, though the restaurant wouldn’t be much of a value on the Disney Dining Plan. I would say that service was a bit on the slow side, though we were in no particular hurry and the bread was very good. So you’ll want to carve out a little more time if you’re looking at lunch/dinner here over a quick service. If you’re in a hurry, let the server know and they should be able to speed things up. “Fast” service is another person’s “rushed” and “relaxed” is another person’s “slow,” so they don’t know what you want unless you tell them.
We popped on Star Tours with FASTPASSes, which had a 50 minute posted wait. The overall crowd level on Friday should have been a “7″ rather than a “5.” It doesn’t help that Disney was planning for a 5. But hey, it’s a rare opportunity to enjoy the queue!
Pretty rough. The Studios would normally be recommended on a Friday and I was happy to see that it was in fact “not recommended” on this particular one. People might tell you that the recommendations are based on “logic” and “common sense,” but I can assure you that I use better “data” than any of the other crowd calendars to form the recommendations.
Sid Cahuenga’s One-Of-A-Kind Antiques and Curious sits just inside the Studios’ main entrance on the left as you walk in. Most people pass right by. It’s sort of like eBay in person. Here are some available items:
These items are from the estate of Barbra Streisand.
In constant competition with Lane Kiffen for biggest __________ in the world.
A signed Buster Crabbe check.
A signed letter by Vivienne Leigh and a signed check by Clark Gable.
AM I THE ONLY ONE AROUND HERE THAT WANTS A BIG LEBOWSKI SIGNATURE?
A Spiderman 3 prop for $900.
A lot of signed photos.
A signed Joe Jonas guitar for $900 or signed Jackson 5 photo for $3,500.
Dick van Dyke’s jacket would run you a cool 65 grand. It’s been here for years, but has not gone up in price! And they say everything at Disney is more expensive than last time. Liars. Filthy liars.
It’s pretty cool stuff and you can easily visit on your way out of the Park or at some other point during the day. It’s a small store, so you should be able to see most of what’s available in just a few minutes, especially if you’re not interested in examining the signed photographs.
Refurbishment walls ruining my vacation! They had moved the Guest and Cast entrance we like to use to the far left in the morning. It’s now back on the right later in the afternoon. With limited turnstiles to work with, I’m thinking the Guest and Cast entrance doubles as the turnstiles used for breakfast reservations in the morning.
So I took my MANY COMPLAINTS to Guest Services, only to find that the windows were behind refurbishment walls too! So I just yelled at the wall for an hour and was then removed from the Park. Same as usual. I guess I can’t say the walls really affected my trip.
With the Food and Wine Festival nearly completed and an overview of what’s available at the rest of the booths nearly irrelevant, I’ll finish that up anyway. A lot of other stuff too – drinks and wings at the Tambu. Frozen beer in Japan. The “steak” from Liberty Tree Inn. Coney Island Dog at The Lunching Pad. Oh, nighttime pictures at Animal Kingdom and the Chicken BLT Salad! And like a million other things.