Looking up Hollywood Boulevard, this is about as clear of a view as we’re going to get before the stage starts going up for Star Wars Weekends.
The Sorcerer’s Hat is gone from view while the walls surrounding its location are expected to remain for another five to six weeks.
Trolley Car Cafe continues to serve Starbucks on the corner of Sunset Boulevard. The popular Starbucks mugs are again in stock here and at Magic Kingdom. This post from last month takes a look inside, among other things.
First up is lunch at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, which is nestled in a location that is sort of hard to describe. It’s located in between the Phineas and Ferb meet and greet and Pizza Planet area.
The restaurant’s theme is probably the most fun and least stuffy of the many Italian options in the area. According to Disney:
Mangia in the backlot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios at this casual but colorful Italian eatery with a California twist.
The vivacious Mama Melrose serves up home-style Italian fare with flavors as bold as she is.
Checked curtains, overhead string lights, hanging foodstuffs, and walls crowded with Mama’s eclectic mementos transform this former backlot warehouse into a cozy and inviting dining space. The same scrumptious menu is served for lunch and dinner.
The menu, which saw some changes last November:
There aren’t a lot of meaningful changes – the pork is a different recipe and the vegetarian entree is new, in addition to the usual price increases.
Interestingly, this is one of the few theme park restaurants that also offers the standard bar drink menu, in addition to these:
Nothing particularly imaginative, otherwise.
While the bread is fairly standard here, they do a good job of serving it reliably warm, almost like it’s fresh from the oven.
Seasoned oil helps liven things up as well. Butter is offered upon request.
I started with a $6.49 bowl of what looks like unattractive (it’s only going to get worse) Vegetarian Minestrone with Ditalini Pasta. Despite being vegetarian, this is a hearty soup packed with squash, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, celery, pasta and a lot of spices. The broth was flavorful and the vegetables retained some bite despite soaking for so long. The flavor profile is otherwise fairly standard tomato-based minestrone soup, but the amount of vegetables makes it somewhat unique. Very good overall, but not necessarily a compelling buy.
Lisa ordered the $12.99 Margherita Flatbread – Fresh Vine-ripened Tomatoes, Mozzarella, House-made Marinara Sauce, fresh Basil, and drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I’ve enjoyed past luck with Mama’s flatbreads, which look more like traditional circular pizzas than most of Disney’s rectangular quick service flatbreads. Above is the $13.99 Carne d’Italia Flatbread with Pepperoni, House-made Sausage, Pancetta, and spicy Marinara Sauce.
And the $12.99 Wild Mushroom Flatbread – Roasted Cremini and Button Mushrooms with a Garlic-Shallot Spread and finished with Balsamic Reduction.
But Lisa’s wasn’t prepared particularly well in this instance. Moisture from the cheese or tomatoes or oil or something caused the crust to become soft and soggy and the cheese was runny and slipped off. The basil coverage wasn’t great either. Don’t get me wrong though, we still ate the whole thing.
I would still charge that flatbreads at Mama’s are significantly larger and better tasting than the frozen pies you receive at Pizza Planet next door for just $3-4 more money.
This is one of the least attractive dishes I’ve been served in recent memory – the $23.99 Saltimbocca – Pork Tenderloin topped with Prosciutto, Sage, Fontina Cheese, Tuscan Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini, and Lemon Caper Sauce.
There were two prominent flavors here – salt followed distantly by lemon. Pork already tends to be on the salty side and then when you add salty prosciutto and salty cheese on top…you get a very salty dish, which isn’t tempered much by the sauce that it’s bathing in. The pork otherwise remained tough and despite each piece being thin, took some effort to cut. Altogether not really what we’re looking for in an entree. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the restaurant go back to a more standard Pork Osso Bucco in the near future. Otherwise, the broccolini were prepared well – still some crunch and the accompanying sauce worked well to bring out some of the earthier flavors. The potatoes were grossly over-seasoned – way too much garlic and rosemary.
While this wasn’t the best meal of all time at Mama Melrose, the restaurant remains a decent choice for the money, particularly if you stick to the lower priced pizzas, which is what I usually recommend. I do like Sci-Fi and 50’s Prime Time more, but if it’s pizza that you’re after, Mama’s is convenient and probably pretty good.
Now outside, it’s 3:30pm on Sunday March 15th in the middle of the busy spring break season. Lines for Phineas and Ferb remain largely nonexistent.
It’s not really a time of day thing either. Here exactly one hour later, waits should be under ten minutes.
The Frozen Sing-Along remains popular at the Premier Theater in front of what is expected to be a move to the old American Idol Experience theater this June. We do know the show will continue to run here during Star Wars Weekends, which is moving the shows that are usually here to the Beauty and the Beast stage. Beauty and the Beast will run on Star Wars Weekend dates in the morning. Beauty and the Beast will otherwise run on its normal schedule during the week, in addition to any other day that isn’t during Star Wars Weekends.
Herbie’s drive-in is the kiosk located near the entrance to Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.
This is one of the menus that sees more changes than most others, for whatever reason.
The $4.49 S’mores are a relatively recent addition.
The flavor profile is nearly identical to a s’mores Pop Tart in my estimation, only the exterior is softer and puffier, if that makes any sense. $4.49 buys you two pockets that are served warm, but not ooey-gooey hot or anything. They were okay, but I think you can do better with a Starring Rolls cupcake, Writer’s Stop cookie sandwich, or something else. But they’re here. They also serve them at the food stand in the Fantasmic theater, where they might make more sense.
Guests continue to have the opportunity to take a picture with Cinderella’s carriage from the movie, at least through April 11th.
The movie, which opened last weekend to a 68 million take, has garnered widely positive reviews. Waits for PhotoPass pictures are 10 to 15 minutes for most of the day. Much shorter before 11am or after 7pm.
About as exciting as current construction projects get here at the Studios.
A close up of progress.
Nothing currently going on at the old location of the Backlot Tour.
Disney randomly confirmed they were adding another track to Toy Story Mania a couple of weeks ago, in addition to adding a third theater to Soarin’ and upgrading the tech there.
I think we’re all waiting for an announcement a little bigger than that…but the additional capacity should help reduce wait times at the attraction, which now sees the second highest average waits, behind Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. A look at wait times over the course of the day:
As I’ve mentioned in the past, the averages are basically a useless number, but do show that wait times are reliably shorter on recommended days, even when you consider generally lower wait times during Extra Magic Hours.
The Joffrey’s locations at the Studios are serving the same signature beverages as Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival.
Disney announced last week that Doc McStuffins would begin making regular appearances in Animation Courtyard beginning “in the summer,” which should translate to sometime in May. The arrow indicates where the meet is expected to be built. Walls are already up.
Hiro and Baymax from Big Hero 6 are expected to continue meeting here for the foreseeable future. They were expected to be on the way out due to technical problems with keeping Baymax inflated and the camera system in the head allowing the cast member to have some idea about where and what things are.
At 3:45pm, Great Movie Ride had a 15-minute posted wait.
I’ve used FP+ here several times before. Each time, FP+ was more of a straight shot to the boarding area, bypassing almost all of queue here watching the clips. The new FP+ route only bypasses about half of this area where the clips play. With the 15-minute posted wait, FP+ only put us ahead of about 15 people in the standby line. If the wait was longer, we would bypass a lot more people. This may have something to do with the Turner Classic Movies sponsorship – everyone riding will have an opportunity/be forced to watch a few minutes of clips. Or it could just be due to Disney deciding people using FP+ here should expect to wait seven to ten minutes to board.
Either way, we got in line at 3:45pm and were boarded and moving 10 minutes later at 3:55pm.
The Turner Classic Movies tie-in is not expected to change the ride or scenes in any meaningful way.
But the clips in the queue and at the end of the ride will change over night one of these days.
There also looks to be a photo spot or some kind of other promotional device on the right as you exit the ride.
Not exactly Star Wars Land.
If the characters that usually meet around the Sorcerer’s Hat through the afternoon are absent, check in front of Great Movie Ride. Pluto, Goofy, Chip, and Dale were unexpectedly meeting here to short waits.
That’s what’s going on at the Studios, where we continue to wait for an announcement of what we all know is coming. Disney did announce some details on this summer’s Frozen promotion: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2015/03/frozen-summer-fun-live-returns-to-disneys-hollywood-studios-june-17-september-7/. We can only hope they don’t do that lame morning Olaf welcome that caused some headaches and heatstrokes last year.