Our coverage of the various Italian food options around the Walt Disney World Resort continues with Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We opened with what will hopefully be the worst of the bunch in Tony’s Town Square Restaurant over at Magic Kingdom as part of this review. We’ll definitely get over to Epcot for Tutto Italia and Via Napoli, but may skip Disney Springs, despite the fact that I’ve been to Maria & Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideaway, Terralina Crafted Italian, etc. about a dozen times in total without writing any formal reviews. Perhaps some sort of quick overview would be prudent, but there isn’t a whole lot of interest in Disney Springs dining, despite the fact that it’s typically where you’ll find the best version of each type of cuisine. Of those three options, Maria & Enzo’s is easily the best. I would not willingly step inside either of the other two restaurants again. Should you have interest, you can hear my opinions on the various eateries at Disney Springs on the March 28th, 2019 episode of Walt Loved Podcasting.
While Tony’s Town Square offers a Dining Package that includes reserved viewing for the afternoon parade, Mama Melrose offers a similar Dining Package that includes seating in the reserved section for Fantasmic:
With sadness and despair in our eyes, it’s time that we return to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, the “Italian” eatery that you’ll find just inside the entrance to Magic Kingdom on the right. As long as you head in through any of the doors into Town Square Theater, you’ll eventually make your way down to the restaurant’s check-in area, so long as you continue moving through the building, which is also shared with the Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell Meet and Greets, among other things. For some time, Tony’s actually bribed diners by offering FASTPASSes for Tinker Bell to use after their meal. Potentially, if the first vacation picture that you show your friends is of you standing there looking sickly, every other picture that you present will have you looking more vibrant. It’s the oldest trick in the book.
This review continues our reexamination of the various Magic Kingdom eateries, which began with Liberty Tree Tavern in this review, which covers just about everything on the menu. We also visited Skipper Canteen in this review. And while it’s not a sit-down restaurant for lunch, we also stopped by Be Our Guest Restaurant to check out some new menu items there too, since you may have it on your list of potential midday stops. We took a short break from continuing through the Magic Kingdom restaurants, in large part due to my recovery time after eating at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, but we’ll also revisit Plaza Restaurant and perhaps Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table, depending on what else is going on. A resort or tower or something might have opened recently. It’s stipulated in my contract that I provide that information to you within 16 weeks.
We return to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa & Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for a fresh take on 1900 Park Fare, the popular character breakfast and dinner buffet.
The Grand Floridian is undergoing a number of changes at the moment, the majority of which are taking place inside the main building on the second floor. First, Mizner’s, the resort’s main lounge, is undergoing a major refurbishment. According to Disney:
This re-imagined lounge will feature four unique spaces inspired by Belle and the Beast. The signature bar will glow from the light of a magnificent gold chandelier that takes its inspiration from Belle’s flowing ball gown, with subtle nods to the Beast’s magical rose. The formal library showcases classical baroque designs and French furnishings inspired by Belle, with hints of the Beast’s friends. The garden room will be a whimsical space that draws its inspiration from the enchanted forest surrounding Beast’s castle. And an outdoor patio will evoke the romance of Beast’s garden terrace.
The lounge will also take over for Commander Porter’s, the men’s wear store that was previously located next to Mizner’s. If you ever went in, likely by accident, then you would typically startle the poor cast members working there because there was so rarely anyone shopping. I imagine that working there required some sort of release a la Mission: SPACE where you had to prove your heart was strong enough to take all of the surprise guest visits.
We’ll head out to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to check out what’s new at Jiko, including the Circle of Life Prix Fixe menu, in anticipation of the live action version of The Lion King debuting in theaters on July 19th.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is among my favorite resorts to visit because there’s so much to see and do, even if you’re not staying at the resort. While Jiko is a destination in and of itself, having the opportunity to immerse yourself in African culture adds another layer of authenticity to the experience. You’re not simply visiting a standalone restaurant. You’re indulging in all of the Disney magic that makes the experience come alive.
We conclude our visit to the Beach and Yacht Club Resorts with a fresh review of Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. One of Disney’s smallest restaurants, Beaches has achieved cult-like status among Edy’s ice cream aficionados over the years for their larger-than-life sundaes and relatively inexpensive comfort food. Before this “old-fashioned soda fountain” began taking reservations a couple of years ago, guests waited up to two hours to “revel in the nostalgia of the Atlantic seashore at this boardwalk-style ice cream shop where every day is sundae.”
Now that reservations are available, grabbing a burger or sundae is typically a less-time-consuming experience for those who plan in advance:
That should be even truer come winter 2019. Beaches and Cream is expected to close at the end of service on August 25th, as the restaurant undergoes an expansion that should take several months, ultimately reopening in time for the Christmas rush at the end of the year. Beaches should take over the space currently occupied by the arcade next door, which should more than double the available seating. During the refurbishment, ice cream will still be available from a nearby, temporary location, though the Specialty Sundaes and Kitchen Sink likely will not.