We’ll take a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to check in on construction, new menus, and a variety of other changes around the Park.
The majority of these pictures will be from this past Saturday, October the 8th, though we will occasionally rewind to a couple of previous visits, including October 5th and all the way back to September 6th to compare/contrast crowd levels and wait times between early September and early October.
Three visits is also the minimum amount of time it takes to cultivate enough content to write one of these posts.
Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner is located inside of a ship on Echo Lake across from Hyperion Theater, where the Frozen Sing-Along is currently being performed.
Min & Bill’s menu has changed wildly over the years and frankly, I’m not real sure why they moved away from what they were serving back in 2011:
Each of these items was unique, portable, and tasted pretty good, though the Chicken Caesar Sandwich never seemed to arrive with much chicken. But over the years, Min & Bill’s has served everything from fried chicken to sushi to buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese to turkey legs to clam chowder.
Pork is the name of the game now as the quick service has moved to hot dogs, pork sliders, and nachos.
I’m not sure how many of you remember Echo Lake Eats, which was a set of three individual kiosks that Disney had installed over the summer in an attempt to increase quick service capacity with Studio Catering Co. permanently closed and Pizza Planet undergoing a lengthy refurbishment.
But with inconsistent hours, no seating, and three individual menus requiring multiple trips through the line if everyone wasn’t on board, the kiosks quickly folded once it became clear that the summer crowds were not going to materialize.
And although the kiosks could go hours without selling anything more than a bottle of water, the food served here was quite good and unlike anything else served in the Park.
I bring this up because it looks like Min & Bill’s has taken two of the more popular items from the kiosks and begun serving them.
At least for now, the Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork is available, though it’s difficult to identify that it’s pasta underneath the two bites of pork in the image. It looks like grits.
In addition to the Chocolate Shake, the Blue Milk Shake is also available. It’s not a personal favorite as the ones I’ve tried always seem to taste very artificial. As opposed to the natural flavor of blue raspberries.
Since the Hot Dogs are the same as what’s served at Casey’s Corner, among other locations, we opted to try the other two entrees.
This is the $10.99 Min & Bill’s Pulled Pork Sliders topped with Coleslaw served with Chips.
The good: The buns were fresh, had a nice chew, and held up nicely with the amount of pork and coleslaw sandwiched in between. Most of Disney’s pulled pork sandwiches are doused in a sweet barbecue sauce to the point where there is virtually no flavor from the pork (which is probably a good thing). But the pork here is nicely seasoned, tender, and just a little bit salty – a much higher quality than you’re going to get at Cosmic Ray’s.
The bad: It’s not a tremendous amount of food for the money as each slider is on the small side. Combined, they are a little less food than your typical quick service pulled pork sandwich. The only side is a 1-ounce bag of Lay’s chips. The coleslaw is on the bland side, though it does add some crunch and a subtle sweetness to each bite.
Overall, this was a surprisingly fresh-tasting entree with higher quality ingredients than just about anything you’ll find at ABC Commissary or Backlot Express and it gives several of the options at Sunset Ranch Market a run for their money. But considering the price, it’s not going to receive a ringing endorsement. $9 would be better, but you can decide if you’re going to let that get in the way of potentially purchasing them.
If the Kids’ Picks version is one slider of the same size (which it probably is), then the $5.99 version would make for a nice snack with the two sides and a drink.
Another option is the $10.49 Loaded Chili Cheese Nachos – served with Guacamole, Pico de Gallo and Sour Cream.
These are virtually identical to what was served at Echo Lake Eats.
The website has consumed a lot of nachos recently, first at La Cantina at Epcot and then at Pecos Bill at Magic Kingdom. And I think these stacked up okay, though there’s much more opportunity for customization at Pecos and the quality at La Cantina is perhaps higher even if they don’t use “real” shredded cheese over there. The problem here was the chips, which collapsed under the weight of the chili and other toppings, making this a fork and knife affair if I had any sense of class whatsoever.
But the portion was sizable and the vegetables were fresh and vibrant and contrasted nicely with the bean-heavy chili and plentiful, if not a bit rubbery, cheddar cheese. If you like sour cream and guacamole then ask for a second cup as each is very small and otherwise the same quality as Pecos. Overall, it was a filling portion and a good value for the money compared to what little Hollywood Studios offers on the quick service front. I would order them again over the Sliders.
So Min & Bill’s is a decent option with the current menu, particularly with temperatures declining as we head into the fall. The picnic table seating isn’t always comfortable in July. I don’t think this is “must do” dining, but it’s a largely efficient, no-nonsense option that should be a lot less hectic than trying to deal with ABC Commissary during peak hours. And it’s not every day that you have the opportunity to order nachos from inside a ship.
In related news, the funnel cakes are back at Oasis Canteen.
Disney moved the snack credit logo to the left of the name rather than following the price, but the $8.19 version is one of the higher priced snacks that you’ll find anywhere on property.
The “Academy of Television Arts & Science Hall of Fame” is behind walls. It seems likely that the busts are being removed.
Over at Backlot Express, it looks like the calorie counts might be a thing of the past. On the menu board, only the panel on the upper right hand corner was updated and calorie counts weren’t added. The other panels were not updated and still show calorie counts.
The far right Beverages panel was also updated with higher pricing on hot cocoa and tea and the calories are no longer present, while the panel on the left was not updated and still includes calories.
Across the way, I was surprised to see the 25-minute wait for Olaf at 9:40am as the wait time had virtually never been higher than 20 minutes since the meet and greet opened several months ago.
So I pulled up the wait times (note that due to an error a couple of days are missing):
But it looks like a reduction in capacity is likely as wait times have more than doubled over the last week. It seems unlikely that the meet and greet got three times more popular overnight as we see the overall average wait jump from 11 minutes on the 1st to 33 minutes the following day.
Someone will have to correct me if I have this backwards, but this is the kids preparing to go to battle at Jedi Training Academy outside the signup area, which is at the Indiana Jones store to the right of 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The kids standing in the front row should battle Darth Vader while those in the back row fight the Ninth Brother/Third Cousin/Seventh Sister. So if you or they have a preference between fighting Vader or the Sister, you might coach them to stand in the proper row.
We’ll take a look at ongoing construction and what’s happening around the rest of the Park next. THAT WILL INCLUDE A SEASONAL CUPCAKE REVIEW!!!