Over to Hollywood Studios to fit in an update in front of tonight’s debut of the Osborne (still no ‘u’) Spectacle of Dancing Lights. As reported a couple of weeks ago, the Sorcerer’s Hat is coming down in “early 2015,” most likely beginning the second week in January. Its removal is not so much a “re-connection” with the Studios’ original purpose, but more of a way to install a permanent stage and set off nightly fireworks. The hat gets in the way of both.
Construction continues on the Starbucks.
Disney doesn’t make setting up and modifying FastPass+ any easier here at the Studios, where the main kiosk in front of the Hat is closed until after 1pm daily. Before that you need to continue to the location underneath the Hat that isn’t indicated on any Park map.
Disney began using the seating outside Brown Derby as a walk-up lounge in November of last year. The website ran a review shortly after. Today, we return. The lounge does not accept reservations and with limited space, there may be a wait when the weather is nice. Weather permitting, the lounge opens at 12pm daily. For a better shot at a table, arrive around then or at a less popular time like 2:30pm.
The lounge offers a separate menu:
Beer is available to-go from a bar near the entrance. The lounge also serves the full Brown Derby menu:
It’s a good thing because the lounge food menu is severely limited, though only the duck tacos have been dropped from the original menu. Disney is too cheap to stock mint so the mint julep is no longer available and La Fin du Monde replaces the Tangerine and Blueberry Ales previously available. The scotch and Grand Marnier flights are also no longer available.
Lisa ordered the Derby Sliders – Wagyu Beef with Cognac-Mustard Aïoli, Smoked Gouda, Bacon, and Avocado served with Duck Confit, Taleggio Cheese, Chipotle Vegetable Slaw, Sweet Onion and Orange Conserve, and crispy Leeks – $16.00. The beef slider is the same description as before while the duck replaces the chorizo.
Lisa favored the decadent duck confit slider, which she gives a solid “A” with a fresh bun, nice crunch from the vegetables, and a little heat from the sauce. There’s a distinct lemony component, but it’s not too much. The small, delicate little potato chips served in the center have a nice crunch and a natural flavor. Very good.
While it’s billed as the same item as we tried back in November 2k13, its appearance is quite a bit different.
This is the previous iteration, seemingly with a thicker everything other than bacon, which is more plentiful on the current version. What we end up with is a fairly straightforward burger with tenderer beef than usual and a nice bacon-y crunch.
Overall, the meal is considerably better than your typical $11 burger and fry combo meal for not a whole lot more money.
I ordered the Andouille-crusted Chicken Breast with Smoked Bacon, White Cheddar, and Tossed Arugula on an Onion Kaiser Roll served with Vegetable Slaw – $18.00, up $1 from the price on Disney’s online menu.
This was an excellent sandwich, approximately 717.2% better than your usual quick service chicken sandwich and potentially the best I’ve had property wide. Everything was fresh and hot with a large chicken breast, a thick slice of cheese, hearty bacon, and the argula for a bit of crunch. Highly recommended.
The fries left a bit to be desired – basically your basic fast food fry with a dull flavor.
Drinks and other food items are reviewed here: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/hollywood-brown-derby-lounge-review-minnie-mouse-frozen-stuff-characterpalooza-hollywood-studios-11313/.
Service is usually pretty dodgy at the lounge with just two servers working the entire space, in addition to the hostess and a bartender. The lounge is actually a sort of punishment for servers, who would all prefer to work the restaurant where the checks and tips are typically higher.
If you’re looking for fancy food in a casual atmosphere and the weather is nice, you may want to give the Brown Derby a try. That’s particularly true for lunch from 12pm-3pm where you can order a gourmet entree for not much more than you’d pay for pot roast at 50’s Prime Time.
Speaking of table service menus, as mentioned previously, they changed resort wide last week.
50’s Prime Time:
Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano:
Not a ton of changes.
American Idol Experience remains closed.
We had a FP+ for Star Tours, which was clutch because the posted wait was 30 minutes and the standby line actually was out the door and into the extended queue at 1:25pm on a non-recommended Saturday. Waits over the course of the day:
Unfortunately it missed the morning Extra Magic Hour times. There’s nothing too whacky here though the triple digit waits at each of the three headliners is rough, in addition to longer average waits than recommended days.
The Star Tours FP+ line was backed up well past the second reader, but the entire experience still only took 17 minutes.
This cookie is “literally” called “Mickey Red Shorts.”
Streets of America is ready for what may end up being the last year of the Osborne Lights here. Disney is doing absolutely nothing to hype it, including no mention on this week’s Times Guide.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, most Disney-operated restaurants now have water and cups in the lobbies or outside in front of the entrance at buffets like Crystal Palace. Heading in for a cup of water is usually faster than waiting in line at a quick service and you can refill to your heart’s content. This is Mama Melrose.
Outside Hollywood & Vine behind the menu sign.
The angels look like creepy wasps during the day.
Santa Goofy set up for his return.
Giving directions at the Studios was difficult even before Backlot Tour and American Idol Experience closed. With the Sorcerer Hat’s exit, to get to ABC Commissary, I’m going to have to tell people to take a left at the bed of purple begonias and a right at the tulips. Anyway, Wandering Oaken’s Frozen Playground and Trading Post have moved to the old AFI Showcase space.
This is the easiest route in.
The gift shop entrance comes first followed by the playground.
It’s a cramped space for not a terribly large payoff. There are a couple photo ops with backgrounds, the snow playground with a wait in the middle of the day, and the snack stand.
The Frozen store.
There’s not a whole lot to it now that the ice skating is gone. Obviously if you have no interest in Frozen, you can safely skip this. If the kids do have an interest and you don’t, you can avoid it pretty easily.
The bar next to Studio Catering Co. offers Schofferhofer Grapefruit on draft now.
Backlot Tour permanently closed. The tram to the left of the old entrance is gone behind walls now.
As far as I can remember, there has been no official announcement that Backlot Tour is closed. It still appears on the sign as simply “not operating today,” not unlike a ride undergoing a temporary refurbishment.
While it’s largely useless to speculate on what’s coming to the Studios as several “done deals” have expired over the last couple of years, but a third track for Toy Story Mania seems likely.
Cast was quoting 45 minutes to an hour to meet the Toy Story characters. Looking over the Cheat Sheet touring plan, there’s a reason these are the first three steps:
1. If desired, sign the kids ages 4 – 12 up for Jedi Training Academy. If you’re not signing up kids, you may be able to ride Toy Story Mania standby with a short wait before meeting the characters. Long waits may develop if you sign kids up for Jedi Training.
2. Visit Toy Story Characters: 9:05am – 9:15am
3. Visit Sofia the First/Jake the Pirate in Animation Courtyard: 9:20am – 9:45am
Stormtrooper souvenir cups and Darth Vader souvenir popcorn buckets from Star Wars Weekends are finally back in stock in case you missed them.
Legend of Jack Sparrow closed permanently on November 6th. On November 7th, the exterior had already been painted a solid blue.
Waring: the next picture is terrifying:
The New Fantasyland model is gone from Walt Disney One Man’s Dream and a few new items have been added:
There’s a lot more and it’s worth taking some time to examine the various props and memorabilia.
As you look over FastPass+ priority, you may be surprised to see Voyage of the Little Mermaid so high:
Tier 2 (Choose Two):
- Tower of Terror
- Frozen Sing-Along
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Star Tours
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Disney Jr. Live on Stage
- Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
- Muppet Vision 3D
Afternoon Mermaid shows typically fill to capacity even in moderate crowds. Here at 2:51pm, people are lining up for the 3:30pm show about 40 minutes in the future. Add 17 minutes for the show and you’ll spend an hour. FP+ would cut that wait down from 40 minutes to less than 10. Star Tours sees short waits before 10:30am and in the last two hours of operation, in addition to enjoying lower peak waits and continuous loading in air-conditioning in a relatively interesting queue. Thus, it comes in 4th. Indiana Jones is more likely to fill to capacity than the other shows and ordinarily requires longer lead time if using standby. FP+ may not be helpful at all at Disney Jr., where FP+ users are brought in first but forced to sit closer to the stage, often resulting in a lesser view than those that arrive later. Lights, Motors virtually never fills to capacity and FP+ gets you nowhere. If FP+ is necessary to get into the next show at Muppets, you have far larger problems.
The Big Hero 6 Meet and Greet had not yet opened on the first, but is open as of the 7th to long lines.
They’re still not real sure what to do with Minnie here in her largely unmarked area.
This tiny sign is new. You would think it would be fairly straightforward for an attendant to route the thousands of people meeting Sorcerer Mickey over the course of the day into the Minnie line.
Big Hero 6 has otherwise invaded the Animation Building:
The movie is being reviewed very well, currently at an 87% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, considerably ahead of Nolan’s Interstellar. We saw a preview last week and enjoyed it thoroughly. One of the best movies I’ve seen this year – funny and a lot of heart.
We missed the Anaheim Produce menu during the update at the end of September. Here it is. It’s on the left as you walk toward Tower of Terror.
Another example of PhotoPass readers at the exit to Rock n Roller Coaster.
A lot of people looking for something to do.
We’ll take a look at Osborne Lights strategy after it officially opens this evening. For a preview (and what will likely be similar advice), check out last year’s: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/disneys-hollywood-studios-osborne-lights-2013-strategy/.