We return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to consider Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine.
My review of Minnie’s Halloween Dine was quite positive, noting several buffet standouts that included Braised Short Ribs, Lobster and Shrimp Macaroni & Cheese, Squid Ink Pasta, and Buffalo Chicken as the buffet was on a definite upward trend.
Here, our Lobster & Shrimp Macaroni & Cheese has been replaced with “Shrimp Alfredo.” I don’t think I see any shrimp in the picture, though it’s possible that you’re supposed to bring your own.
On the plus side, the characters remain adorable with Donald in his holiday getup.
Minnie arrives tableside in a beautiful red dress with matching bow.
Daisy – no pants.
And The Big Cheese himself in a holiday blazer with peppermint buttons.
This video from our meal shows more about what you can expect from the characters, each of which spent a considerable amount of time at our table mingling and taking pictures.
While Minnie is your host, the featured picture is with Santa Goofy just inside the restaurant’s entrance.
If he’s busy before you’re seated, you’ll be given this card with which to return.
The restaurant’s setting perhaps leaves something to be desired as it’s “themed” to a cafeteria, perhaps in the same way that my apartment is themed to a dump. Minnie’s Seasonal Dine takes over during lunch at 11:20am with seatings that continue just past official Park close for the Holiday Dine or up until 30 minutes before Park close during other seasons. Currently, the Studios closes at 8pm, but Hollywood & Vine continues seating guests through 8:15pm, which puts those seated last out around 9:30pm. That’s probably due to the fact that Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM is scheduled at 8;30pm and guests typically linger for a while after.
If character interaction is important, then I’d recommend booking a meal as late as possible. As more and more diners leave, the characters will have more opportunities to visit your table and spend more time. On the other hand, we also know that attraction wait times drop as closing time approaches. So if you’re trying to get one last ride on Slinky Dog Dash, then you’ll want to book a reservation at least 90 minutes before the Park is scheduled to close.
During breakfast, with seatings from 8am to 10:20am, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Vampirina, and Goofy meet guests at a meal that continues to focus on the kids interacting with the characters for Disney Jr. Play ‘n Dine.
Soft drinks, coffee, and other assorted non-alcoholic beverages are included in the cost of the meal, but you can also opt for a glass of wine or a beer.
A few cocktails are also available.
We move on to the buffet items, beginning with these Pretzel Rolls, which are pretty good. I wish there was a Beer Cheese Soup or another dip, though.
Plump dinner rolls are also offered.
Both with butter.
Under what Disney calls a “creative array of salads,”we begin with this one.
“Autumn Field Greens” on the left with Caesar Salad on the right.
Marinated Cherry Tomatoes, Grapes, Red Onions, Ranch Dressing, and Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Along with Shredded Carrots.
Not Beer Cheese Soup.
The Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Shaved Fennel and Arugula looks to be a little light on anything other than Arugula.
Fruit Salad with your typical unripe cantaloupe and honeydew.
Winter Kale & Cabbage Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Dried Craisins. (Versus the other kind of Craisins?)
I actually liked the Mussels on the last go-around, but these were incredibly fishy with a gummy texture.
Non-chilled buffet seafood is perhaps not the direction you want to be headed.
The Peel-and-Eat Shrimp are back down in size to where about half of what you pick up is the shell.
Amusingly, there was a gentleman nearby who only ate the shrimp, piling the shells sky-high on a napkin next to his plate. Some people just want to watch the world burn.
The Barbecued Meatballs were actually one of the better items on the buffet, which may be a little sad. They’re certainly defrosted with a sweet glaze along with some peppers and pineapple.
“Corn Nibblers” are up next. Vegetable, grain, or fruit?
There is a bit of an art to buffet-photos-at-the-buffet-photography, which is easily one of the most awkward things that I do. There is no discernible reason to want pictures of empty mashed potato bowls and people will act like you’ve cut them off on the freeway and sent the family vehicle down a ravine to their likely deaths if you get in the way of their access to the corn dog nuggets.
In addition to that, frequent trips are often necessary to truly capture the essence of some of the dishes that were empty on the first go-around.
Here’s another shot of a fuller bowl of Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I’m not sure I had any better luck with the Cornbread Stuffing, though.
On one hand, wasting food is a shame, but so many items with 90% of the food missing doesn’t make for the most appetizing experience.
Moving right along, we’ve got Roasted Chicken in Herb Crust with Peppers.
That “Shrimp” Alfredo again.
The Apricot Roasted Pork didn’t photograph well, but it was another above-average item with the tart cranberries and sweet apricots complementing the roasted flavor of the pork.
Reviews were mixed on the Cobia with Pumpkin Beurre Blanc. The sauce was thicker than you might be expecting, but I thought it mixed butter and pumpkin nicely for some tasty fall flavors.
Sweet Potato Casserole.
Green Bean Casserole.
“Sustainable Fish of the Day: Verlasso Salmon.” Another perfectly decent dish.
Red and Brown Quinoa Rice.
Butternut Squash and Lentil Croquettes. It’s possible that my opening was a little too negative as this was certainly an interesting addition that didn’t “feel” like it had much business being on the buffet line at Hollywood & Vine.
Crispy-fried Tofu in Kalbi Sauce.
“Farro Risotto with Portobello Mushroom” – another solid vegetarian option.
The Marinated Flank Steak was just fine – perhaps a little dry, but you can always make up for quality with quantity. Or at least that’s the name of the game here.
Turkey for the holidays – tender if not a bit lacking in flavor.
Looks like we have some olive oil and basil.
The kids section, which is hilariously low to the ground, offers some additional items that anyone is welcome to take – Broccoli, Carrots, Pasta, Baked Chicken, and White Rice.
Macaroni & Cheese, Chicken Nuggets, Tater Tots, Corn Dog Nuggets, and Marble Potatoes.
It’s kind of fun to add a couple of Corn Dog Nuggets to your plate if for no other reason than plopping a couple in your mouth while deciding between the Cobia Beurre Blanc or Butternut Squash Croquettes.
Overall, there’s a pretty good assortment of options, though I was a bit disappointed that none of them really stood out as being excellent. Sure, we’re at a buffet and should judge things accordingly, but I was disappointed not to taste anything on the level of the Braised Short Ribs from my last visit. At least there’s Tater Tots.
Hollywood & Vine’s dessert game is typically on point and that trend continues with these Chocolate Eggnog Cream cups.
We saw something similar as part of the Flurry of Fun at the Studios. I review about a dozen of those items here.
A chocolate on chocolate option.
Gingerbread Prep & Landing Cupcakes similar to what we saw at the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party, which I review here.
Apple Cranberry Tarts.
Sugar Cookies with Green Chocolate.
Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Soft-serve Ice Cream with Chocolate Syrup and Sprinkles for toppings.
Save some room because I think the desserts are typically better than their hot buffet counterparts.
Hollywood & Vine lunch and dinner will set you back $52 for adults and $31 for kids ages 3-9, making it an expensive proposition. I think the meal lives up to its reputation as serving average-quality food with enough variety and enough quantity to satisfy most guests. Like most character meals, you’re visiting for the pictures, autographs, and interaction with Mickey and the gang, and Hollywood & Vine does a nice job with that. We saw all of the characters once and a couple made it around twice in the almost-two-hours that we were there, never feeling rushed. We probably would have left a bit earlier, but it took Mickey more than an hour to make it back over to us since we missed him the first time after our server said the coast was clear to hit the buffet. As is typical, service was just fine – friendly and efficient with refilling beverages and clearing plates.
We had a good time.
Overall, I’d keep Hollywood & Vine on the list if meeting the characters are a priority, particularly in their darling seasonal outfits. The Halloween costumes are still my favorite. Disney has not posted the schedule for 2019 yet, but the Holiday Dine continues through January 6th, 2019. I’d expect to see the Silver Screen Dine return on January 7th through March 17th. Then it’s Springtime Dine from March 18th through June 3rd, Summertime Dine from June 4th through September 1st, Halloween from September 2nd through November 7th, and then back to the Holiday Dine. Disney should update the site with 2019’s dates at some point soon.
From a food quality standpoint, you could certainly do better for your $52, which would buy you a Filet and a Diet Coke at Hollywood Brown Derby. Or for less than half of the cost of dinner here, you could grab a burger and a shake at Sci-Fi or fried chicken and a shake at 50’s Prime Time. But the characters remain a big draw and the food will fill you up, even if it’s largely forgettable.
We’ll see what’s next.