We make our way over to the Studios for an update on what you can expect to find on the various quick service menus. The Park has earned a bad reputation over the years as the “worst” for Disney fast food, among other things. Such as number of rides. Or new shows. Or things to do in general. It’s potentially a fair assessment, though I would argue that there are some diamonds in the rough. And with some recent changes, particularly at ABC Commissary, you can do pretty well for yourself.
The Commissary, where you’ll find two very different menus offered during lunch and dinner, is where we’ll begin. Above is a list of the lunch entrees with the Barbecued Ribs, Land and Sea Platter, Vegan Burger, and Mediterranean Salad also available for dinner. That makes the Chicken Breast Strips and Chicken Club Sandwich “lunch exclusives.”
You’ll have to excuse the quality of some of these photos as the Commissary does not offer particularly appealing lighting, which may also impact how you “feel” about the food once it’s presented.
This is the $10 “Mediterranean Salad – Mixed Greens, Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers, Kalamata Olives and Feta Cheese tossed in a Greek Vinaigrette and served with Hummus and Pita Chips.” It’s jam-packed full of stuff combined with a zesty, addictive vinaigrette dressing and served with a little side of hummus and what appear to be homemade pita chips. It’s a relatively unique, relatively light offering that you can add chicken to for another three dollars.
This is the $13 “Vegan Burger – Vegan-friendly Burger topped with Lettuce, Tomato, Sautéed Peppers and Onions in a Balsamic Glaze, Vegan Mayonnaise Ketchup, Sriracha Mustard on a Brioche Bun served with French Fries.” Above is the dinner version served with the “Southwestern Steak Fries dusted in Chili-lime Seasoning” that are served after 4pm. Before then, the side is regular, skinny Disney fries.
Like a lot of the other vegan burgers that Disney has switched to over the last six-ish months, this is a Beyond Burger that is not to my personal tastes – it’s just a little too thick and a little too off-puttingly sweet. Fortunately, this is a pretty spicy offering with a surprising amount of zip from the Sriracha Mustard backed up by spicy Sauteed Peppers and Onions in a tangy Balsamic Glaze. The thick cut vegetables help counteract that spice a bit with a crunchy piece of lettuce and the slice of tomato. Even the vegan bun is a step above, appropriately fluffy with a nice bite. Disney is doing a pretty nice job with these vegan/vegetarian offerings as we’ll soon see another good option at Fairfax Fare in the Vegan Chili.
The $10 “Chicken Breast Strips served with your choice of fresh Green Beans, Apple Slices or French Fries” are slightly disappointing – they were exactly what you would expect from defrosted and baked Tyson Chicken Tenders. I was mildly disappointed that they weren’t crunchier or had some amount of flavor to them outside of a little bit of pepper. The Commissary also doesn’t offer to toss them in any sauces, so you’re left with your standard assortment of basic condiments. It’s food, but not much more can be said. They would be vastly improved if you could get them tossed in buffalo, sweet-chili, teriyaki, or some other kind of sauce.
The $11 “Chicken Club – “Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast served on a Kaiser Roll topped with Bacon and Provolone Cheese served with Coleslaw and choice of Green Beans, Apple Slices or French Fries” is (arguably) another loser.
It’s incredibly bland – there’s no sauce on it and you know that Disney isn’t back there using some kind of carefully produced, flavorful marinade. But the chicken at least wasn’t pounded into the vicinity of a circle and wasn’t “literally” a defrosted patty, so there’s that. But there was no crispiness or flavor to the bacon, the cheese was low quality and not-at-all melted, and the vegetables were just kind of there. A tasty aioli would go a long way, but you’re otherwise pouring some honey mustard or barbecue sauce or something on it to salvage the situation.
The $18.29 “BBQ Rib Platter -House-made Dry-rubbed Smoked Pork Ribs in a Sweet BBQ Sauce served with Coleslaw and French Fries” should be the most expensive quick service entree in the Park.
I’m not sure how obvious it is, but this is a stupid amount of food with a three-story tower of ribs, each with four bones attached together a little more securely than you might hope given the plastic cutlery provided. They’re big, meaty, and fatty with a lot more sauce than you might be expecting given the fact that they’re described as “Dry-rubbed and Smoked.” What you end up with is a lot of tough, fatty meat that clings to the bone like its life depends on it. In a way, I suppose that it does. If you don’t mind putting in the work, this is a lot of food to share, but it’s also a bit of a mess and I’m not sure what you receive correlates to the description. They certainly make up for it on quantity though – we laughed about the weight as we passed the plate around. I think Corless is still basically stuck underneath the equivalent of a ton of bricks inside ABC Commissary to this day. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing.
Here Kids’ Meals, Desserts, and Specialty Drinks that include several seasonal holiday items.
On the kids’ front, the Power Pack is a good choice for on-the-go, particularly when junior swears up and down that he’s “not hungry” but you both know that 15 minutes after you finish the meal he’s going to be DYING OF STARVATION. Above is how it arrives along with the Happy Daze cocktail, which is as thick, sweet, and syrupy as you might expect. It is decidedly not my thing, but there’s plenty of tropical juice flavor along with what is probably a smidgen of Bacardi.
And this is how it’s laid out. For about the same price as a Mickey Pretzel with cheese sauce, it might be a bigger haul than it looks.
It does arrive with your choice of beverage, in addition to the Danimals Smoothie.
The Power Pack also works well if you’re looking to bring something into a show since everything is easily transportable inside of the bag.
Some wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverage options.
Dinner brings with it four exclusive entrees. It’s worth noting that the Shrimp and Fish/Shrimp are available separately for both lunch and dinner, in addition to the trio that’s listed inside the restaurant.
The $16 “Braised Beef and Enchilada – Braised Barbacoa Beef served on Cilantro Slaw with a Roasted Corn and Cheese Enchilada topped with Fire Roasted Chipotle Sauce and Queso Fresco” seems a bit random for the Commissary, a quick service that has long-focused on the deep-fried and the sandwiched.
On the other hand, we’ve seen a number of eccentric dishes offered over the years, including my beloved Chicken Curry of Yesteryear.
Despite looking pretty unfortunate, this tasted surprisingly good with nicely-seasoned, fork-tender beef smothered in a spicy, flavorful pepper sauce. There’s just corn and cheese inside the Enchilada, which is topped with more of the Fire Roasted Chipotle Sauce and a generous scoop of cool and creamy queso fresco. Even the rice was prepared nicely and carried a nice herb-y flavor. On the downside, this is 16 bucks worth, which is above average in price for a quick service entree. And it isn’t a tremendous amount of food. The “Enchilada” is maybe five bites, despite looking sizable in the picture. There’s two separate mounds of beef, which is a little strange, but they amount to another five or six bites at most.
For that reason, you might try it if you’re on the Dining Plan, but it’s a spendy proposition out of pocket. On the other hand, it’s also the same price as the Fried Combo, so you’ve got that going for you, but $13 would be a fairer price. You may or may not let that stop you from giving it a try, as random as it is to see this on the menu here.
Elsewhere on the hodgepodge front, we have a couple of Bowl options. “Very trendy.”
I don’t play the lottery – I eat ABC Commissary fast food seafood. I wish there was a “hazard pay request” box on these blogs. Surprisingly, this was, again, not bad at all. The Teriyaki Sauce carries a nice sweet tang to it and there isn’t so much of it that it overpowers the flavors of the surprisingly-fresh, nicely stir-fried vegetables that add some crunch to most bites with flavorful onions, peppers, edamame, green onions, carrots and more. Because this is a classy joint, you’ve even got two different kinds of sesame seeds sprinkled on top. There’s also quite a bit of brown rice on the bottom, kept in top-of-the-line rice cookers.
The $13 “Teriyaki Vegetable Bowl – Stir-fried Napa Cabbage, Snap Peas, Red Peppers, Carrots, Onions, Edamame, Shitake Mushrooms and Broccoli tossed in a House-made Teriyaki Sauce over Brown Rice topped with Crushed Cashews” is another option available for $2 less than the shrimp. This was also better than it had any right to be – the bowl is overflowing with vegetables and whole cashews with what may or may not be an intentionally-artistic carrot-shred sculpture on top. It ends up being a very filling, very flavorful dish. It’s almost unbelievable.
This is the $15.49 “Southwest BBQ Burger – Flame-broiled 1/3 lb Angus Burger topped with Chipotle BBQ Pulled Pork, Cheddar, Green Chilies and Bread and Butter Pickles finished with Green Chilies Aïoli and Crisp Onion Rings on a Brioche Bun served with Signature Southwestern Steak Fries dusted in Chili-Lime Seasoning.” That’s almost as big of a mouthful as the burger. I’ve mentioned before that much like Skynet, Disney is aware that their burgers are overcooked, bone-dry abominations. To help counteract this, their best offerings are piled high with other, typically-sauced toppings. That’s the case here with the tender, sweet and spicy pork along with the crispy onion rings and juicy pickles, in addition to a substantial amount of melted cheddar cheese and a nice kick from all of the chilies, both in the sauce and out-of-sight underneath the burger patty. It’s a complete mess to eat and will end up being an incredible gut bomb, but if you’re in the mood for a burger and hate yourself, then you can’t do much better. You’re already at the Studios, so the second part should come pretty naturally.
I like ABC Commissary’s Steak Fries, but the Chili-Lime Dusting isn’t my favorite preparation – there’s a lot of citrus going on and the flavor leans on the sour side, which is not typically what I’m looking for when it comes to potatoes. You can request normal fries if you prefer.
Dinner brings with it an assortment of sides, including the $6 Southwestern Steak Fries – Signature Southwestern Steak Fries dusted in Chili-lime Seasoning finished with Chipotle Aïoli Drizzle and Queso Fresco.
This is a trendy bowl of the same chili-lime-seasoned steak fries that we’ve seen served with several other entrees, this time topped with a thicker version of the Fire Roasted Chipotle Sauce and the same Queso Fresco as the Enchilada. Again, the flavor profile is not to my personal tastes, but this does double down on the spice, probably without enough queso fresco to add a cool cheesy flavor. If you’re sharing a burger or another entree and would like to add a little heft to round things out, this this may make sense, but they’re pretty skippable otherwise, in my estimation.
Elsewhere on the southwest front, the $7 “BBQ Quesadilla served with Steak Fries, Roasted Corn and choice of Beverage” is an interesting option on the Kids’ dinner menu. I won’t scar you for life by showing the interior shot, but the flavors aren’t bad at all in the small quesadilla filled with shredded chicken. The side of Fries looks to be about as substantial as what arrives with the adult entrees, making this a reasonable value if an adult is looking for a substantial snack or small meal. The Roasted Corn is buttery with a lot of salt. The “Fire-roasted Corn Medley” version, available as a side, brings more spice to the table.
From 4pm onward, the Commissary operates as a “fast casual restaurant,” where you’ll order from the register like normal and then a server will bring your food out to you. It’s slightly more pleasant than having to wait at the counter yourself. On the other hand, you’ll be sitting there wondering where your food is and whether or not they forgot your order the whole time. It usually takes about ten minutes for food to appear.
Overall, ABC Commissary is unlikely to be your favorite quick service meal on your trip, but there are some decent options available, particularly after 4pm. If you’re looking to “maximize” the value on the Dining Plan, then this is also where you’ll find several of the most expensive quick service entrees. In the cooler weather, I like to sit outside, where it’s far less chaotic than inside, and enjoy the breeze and the afternoon meltdowns. When the weather is more uncomfortable, indoor air-conditioned/heated seating is typically plentiful.
We’ll move on to the rest of what the Studios offers, as thin as that may be.