It’s about 1:30pm as we head toward Hollywood Studios on Sunday November 3rd.
Studios closes at 7pm through the 7th with Osborne Lights starting on the evening of the 8th. The Lights push the close back to at least 8pm, which is nice this time of year with the cooler evening temperatures.
Last year’s Osborne Lights advice is available here.
Santa Goofy is expected to return to his Meet and Greet area beginning at 6pm and continuing past official Park close. Santa Goofy is extremely popular. Expect to wait about an hour whether you opt to get in line at 5pm (and probably miss the lighting ceremony) or at 7pm.
Baby Jesus should return as well.
Haven’t heard whether there will new songs this year, but there are usually a couple. We’ll return this Friday when things are lit up.
Hollywood Studios was the most recommended Park.
“Feels crowded” here in the middle of the afternoon.
Disney has apparently not gotten around to changing the times on its manually set clocks. And they haven’t updated the chalk for a while as the Star Tours FASTPASS return time should be at least 2:30pm – 3:30pm. Technology will save us just as long as humans aren’t the ones programming it.
Disney announced a “lounge” would be arriving at Hollywood Brown Derby just five days ago.
Seating is first come, first served. When we arrived just before 2pm, there were no tables available. But within five minutes or so, two tables opened up and there looked to be at least a high top table available throughout the rest of the time we were there.
Tables are a mixture of high tops and low tops. Most highs seat two to four comfortably and the low tops easily seat five or six. There are a couple high tops that seat just two along the wall and about five tables inside. Perhaps more importantly than the seating configuration is the fact that you can order any of the Derby’s specialty cocktails to go at the makeshift bar just inside the lounge seating area.
In addition to the lounge menu, the entire regular menu should also be available. It wasn’t offered to us though.
It looks like this these days:
And the regular beverage menu from this past May:
Prices and selection may vary a bit on the older drink menu.
Two of the best and most popular items make their way to the lounge.
$11.25 buys the Martini Flights of the Stars on the right. These are not for the faint of heart as they’re virtually all liquor.
The Honey Darling is Bombay Sapphire Gin and Dry Vermouth with an olive that is not quite as large as it looks in the bottom of the glass. I would describe this one as tasting like Bombay with a hint of vermouth.
The Dorma Nesmond is Ketel One Citroen Vodka, Pomegranate Liqueur, and Cranberry Juice. This one is also mostly alcohol with the cranberry juice mostly serving to add a bit of color.
Not really pictured is the Shelby Mayer – Grey Goose and Dry Vermouth. It’s basically a clear glass of liquid that tastes like vodka.
The margarita flight is more forgiving.
Each is strong, but the fruit juices and liqueurs help cut the flavor of the tequila. I liked the Pomegranate the most with the Mango a close second. The Bucky Greenhorn Derby Margarita tasted like a standard margarita. As far as I know, the three of these are only available as part of the flight, though the Bucky sounds a lot like the standard “Derby Margarita.”
Of course, you can opt for a full size classic cocktail like the Sidecar Lisa ordered – Courvoisier VS Cognac, Cointreau, and a splash of Sweet-and-Sour with a Sugared Rim – $9.75. This is a sizable cocktail that balanced the sweetness from the sweet and sour and the oak from the cognac well.
And my Jack Diamond – Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, and Bitters – $9.75. Another nicely balanced cocktail that’s mostly bourbon, the flavor was smooth and slightly sweet.
On the food front, we ordered the Derby Sliders – Wagyu Beef with Cognac Mustard Aioli, Smoked Gouda Cheese, Bacon and Avocado and House-made Chorizo with Chipotle Mayo, Manchego Cheese, Pickles, and Crispy Onions with potato chips in the middle – $15.
The Wagyu Beef had a lot going on for a baby burger with a thick slice of tomato and avocado on top of the bacon, cheese, and beef. The “cognac mustard aioli” sounds awfully fancy, but I didn’t think it provided much flavor, which was dominated by the other toppings. It’s otherwise a well executed hamburger that uses premium ingredients.
The Chorizo was more interesting with a hint of spice from the mayo and crunch from the onions and sweet pickles. Both Sliders were very good. The chips in the middle were greasy, but had a more distinct potato flavor than your typical Disney mass-produced potato chip.
The sliders combine to make a nice, potentially light meal. For about five dollars more than a burger at ABC Commissary, you’re going to come away with food that is considerably higher in quality.
We also ordered the Prince Edward Island Mussels – Sauteed with Applewood-smoked Bacon and a Garlic Herb Butter Sauce – $15. These reminded me a lot of what’s served at Be Our Guest and other restaurants on property.
They load you up on mussels that taste almost exclusively of garlic and butter. Lisa, who had never tried mussels, commented that they “literally taste like the ocean.” Maybe if the ocean was made of garlic and butter, dear. A girl can dream. The mussels were otherwise expertly prepared and there were quite a few of them. Recommended.
I stole a few pictures from what other people ordered. This is the Artisanal Cheese and Charcuterie Board for Two – $19. It’s as serious of a spread as it probably looks.
Chocolate Three Ways – Praline Milk Chocolate Cream, crunchy Ganache, and Orange Chocolate Mousse – $9.
The Banana-White Chocolate Toffee Tower on Cocoa-Almond Cookie and Bananas “Foster” – $9. This is a gigantic dessert – not sure if that’s obvious.
With temperatures cooling here in the fall, sitting outside is fairly comfortable in the afternoon. This is not the place you want to be when it’s raining or when it’s extremely hot/humid (most of the year). I can’t imagine this operating successfully in July, but I guess we’ll see. At least right now, the lounge opens at 12pm, which is 30 minutes later than the restaurant. I’m not sure if the closing time varies by time of year.
On the downside, the high top tables are almost on top of each other. We conversed with the table on each side of us throughout the meal because it was basically like we were dining with them. Service, at least here early on, leaves something to be desired as staff seems overworked. We saw our server running around, but she rarely checked in on us. The lounge is a great spot for a cocktail, appetizer, and/or dessert, but I’d plan on a reservation inside if I was planning to eat an entree or perhaps even a couple appetizers and desert. It is much less congested than the outdoor seating. And for Brown Derby prices, you might as well be able to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the theme park. The lounge is more casual and ideal for popping in unexpectedly for a snack and a drink. The margarita flight in particular is recommended. As word spreads, it may be near impossible to get a seat here without a wait. Luckily, drinks are available to-go. You may want to inquire about a table inside the restaurant
Princess Sofia in Animation Courtyard remains relatively popular. She meets from 9:30am to 1pm and 2:10pm to 4:30pm. With kids interested in meeting her, I’d head over here immediately after Toy Story Mania and the Toy Story characters. You may want to do that before heading to Sunset Boulevard for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror because the capacity is so lousy. Actual waits in the 20 to 30 minute range are common from 10am onward. You may also opt to arrive around 1:55pm for her 2:10pm meet if the morning doesn’t work.
Poor Jake is less popular. Both of these Meet and Greets are to the right of the entrance to Disney Jr. Live on Stage.
We’re now headed inside the Animation Building. Disney Jr. would be on the right and Voyage of the Little Mermaid on the left.
Inside the Animation Building is where you’ll find Mr. Incredible, Frozone, Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope, Sorcerer Mickey, and now Minnie. The website’s advice is to head here by 5:30pm. First meet Ralph/Vanellope downstairs (usually stop greeting at 6pm), then The Incredibles (usually stop greeting at 6:30pm), then Minnie (usually stops greeting at Park Close or 30 minutes before), then Sorcerer Mickey (usually stops greeting at Park Close or 30 minutes before).
Mickey still commands a crowd. I don’t like heading in here earlier in the morning because 20 to 30 minute waits often develop before 10am when he first appears.
Ralph and Vanellope’s line is usually shorter. The wait here is 15ish minutes.
Minnie meets in an odd location.
It’s unmarked other than the “Drawing Room” signage, which doesn’t really make any sense.
There’s no mention of poor Minnie.
That leads to “literally” nobody in line. I realize it does look like one person is in line here, but she really isn’t. The queue is decorated:
Any one of these movies would be better than Mars Needs Moms.
Disney seems to have a thing for the Mouse characters meeting in backrooms and dressing areas.
Since nobody else was in line, Minnie had a chance to show us around.
It’s more than a little cute. With the nonexistent lines, this might be a good starter character if the kids are apprehensive about meeting life size mice. If Minnie is the only priority in here, I’d head over whenever it’s convenient in the afternoon or evening. She shouldn’t command much of a wait.
New movie posters:
Frozen Art has moved into the gallery outside the entrance to the Animation Tour:
I have no idea what the buzz on this is.
More Frozen and a new wall.
Lines weren’t too bad at the Pirates of the Caribbean “attraction” with a posted wait of 30 minutes and actual wait closer to 20. Sparrow is tough to fit in because it’s not worth rushing to in the morning and it isn’t worth waiting for in the afternoon.
This is what you’re waiting for in case you’re unfamiliar.
Toy Story Mania had an 80-minute posted wait.
The line was barely out the door across the way at Woody/Buzz. That wait would be around 30 minutes.
At least you could walk right into the next Backlot Tour.
Disney may just be seeing how much Cars Land souvenir drink cups they can sell at Hollywood Studios without actually building any attractions to make said souvie cups make sense. Also cupcakes that cost over $5.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure remains closed through November 18th.
Characterpalooza is still occurring on the Streets of America. I haven’t been able to pin down the new schedule.
Larger: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports10/kennypls.jpg. Amusingly(?) Kenny the Pirate has taken to DISboards, Twitter, and who knows what else accusing this website of stealing his character information.
I would simply remind the discerning public that this website has been covering Characterpalooza, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and several other topics (scotch mostly) long before Kenny the Pirate was even a thing. And it’s absurd to accuse or insinuate that I would lift information like that – particularly information that is so easily accessible from within Disney’s own mobile app.
The good news is that the website should be posting meet and greet times/locations, along with other helpful information, to https://www.easywdw.com/waits in the near future. It’s really just a matter of formatting the information.
Basically my face when I saw that on the DIS.
Characterpalooza is otherwise the somewhat random assortment of characters that it has always been, now occurring primarily at the Streets of America.
Since moving out of the Animation Building, Palooza is much less organized. The characters move around and “don’t have lines,” creating confusion about how it all works and who’s up next to grab a picture.
Mulan, Pocahontas, Meeko, Minnie, Pinocchio, and Jasmine were greeting guests, which is a smaller haul than it has been in the past. Hopefully we’ll be able to peg down when/if Characterpalooza continues after November 8th when Fantasmic moves to 6:30pm.
Star Tours remains a much lower priority than the other rides in the Park, including Great Movie Ride these days.
Wait times circa 4:40pm with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster down and Tower of Terror FASTPASSes still available with a pretty reasonable FASTPASS return time.
That’s all for now. I will be at Epcot bright and early to do some morning touring and FASTPASS+ testing. You can follow along on Twitter (I’m really annoying), the forum (I’m really annoying) or wait for me to post something on the site.