No matter who you talk to, or which reviews or blogs you read, there’s always one Walt Disney World restaurant that people advise you to stay away from — Hollywood and Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! So what can be so bad about this character buffet restaurant? How can Disney let an establishment that’s constantly being panned go unnoticed? Does it deserve the nickname “Hollywood and Slime”? Is there really a Disney restaurant that’s that bad? Surely not, this is Disney! On a recent trip to Walt Disney World I was on the free Dining Plan, and with curiosity getting to me, I got a dinner reservation for Hollywood and Dine for “Minnie’s Holiday Dine”, on the Fantasmic! Dinner Package. (So even if the food was bad, I’d still get a great seat for the nighttime show.)
From the outside the establishment looks like a cool retro diner, however, that’s where the theming ends. Inside looks like a typical buffet restaurant, nothing special, but clean and spacious. Service areas were doubled up, so no need to walk miles across the room for food, and it wasn’t the messy area I expected. The dining area is spread well apart, with lots of room to get back to your table without tripping over bags or small children, and lots of room for the characters to move around. Service was great, with tables constantly attended to when it came to clearing away plates and drink refills. As this was Christmas, the decorations were up and festive tunes were playing over the noise. (I find that all buffet restaurants can get rowdy.)
When it came to the characters, I thought the interaction was great. We were greeted at the door by Santa Goofy in a festive setting for a Photopass opportunity (one that you would normally have a long line for). Minnie and Daisy were in sassy form (Daisy was pretty flirty with me, don’t tell Donald), and Mickey and Donald were wearing their finest holiday wardrobe too. I was slightly confused by what they were wearing, Donald was telling me he’d been playing golf! I’d rather they had been wearing something more Christmassy like ugly sweaters, but they still looked cute, and came around twice within the hour I was there. In fact, having eaten at most of the character meals on property, I thought the interaction here was some of the best. My time didn’t feel rushed, and the guys had lots of fun with us and other tables.
The food is what I was most curious about, but I found it great and seasonally represented; fresh, tasty, plentiful, warm and well presented (for a buffet). I loved the apricot stuffed roast pork, pumpkin and carrot casserole, garlic mash and creamed green beans. Dessert options were mostly cake — red velvet cake with a cute Santa hat, pecan tart, gingerbread cupcakes and an eggnog cheesecake (which for some odd reason had a Halloween pumpkin on it)! There was also a kids’ section with the usual fries, chicken nuggets, corn dogs and mac’n’cheese. So for someone expecting cold mash and slime, I was pleasantly surprised.
So overall, I was happy with my use of a dining credit. I think if you’re on the Dining Plan it’s a good use for reasonable food, but especially as you meet characters and save on a Fastpass for Fantasmic. (We were seated right in the middle of the arena by the way, and only got there 10 minutes before the show.) However, this is where I think the bad rep comes in: the price! For an adult, that would have cost me $57 before tax and tip ($35 for children), and that, I think, is too much! However, I’d like to take the slime away from “Hollywood and Slime”, but add a touch more Hollywood glamour!