List of Disney Dining Experiences at Disney World Spring Break 2015, Number Two (2): Hollywood & Vine – Fantasmic

2nd Place: Hollywood & Vine

Lord love me a buffet! Seriously, the thing about Disney Dining for me is: I happen to have numerous dietary restrictions, namely Dairy, Gluten, Egg and Soy. Therefore, chefs speak with me on a regular basis. Taking the number two spot is Hollywood & Vine. Why? The chefs talk to me and give me NUMEROUS options all while my children can happily crash the buffet without having to wait for mom to AGAIN talk to the chef and then WAIT for their food to show up. Nope! They get food right away - lots of beautiful, varied and delectable options while I get to converse with the chef about the options that are available to me! This is a huge win for anyone who suffers from food allergies but also has children that despite their patience, just want to eat on their Disney trip and get back out to explore and have more fun!

This restaurant has a bit of a 1950's vibe and is sister-hallwayed (I made up that word...isn't it great?) with 50's Prime Time Café, so there's some blend over between the two restaurants since they share a bathroom in that sister-hallway.

Hollywood and Vine often has character guests at lunch and dinner. I have seen Jedi Mickey Star Wars, Disney Jr. characters, Minnie's Holiday dine at Christmas, Spring and Summer and there always other characters to enjoy and have pictures taken with as well including but not limited to: Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy, Jake and more! The meal characters depend on the time of year and the time of day.

Look for the Hollywood and Vine: Fantasmic offering while browsing through restaurant dining options at My Disney Experience. Or you can call 1-407-WDW-DINE and ask for the Fantasmic package. Fantasmic is a show put on at Hollywood Studios at night and is a spectacular extravaganza of all things Disney, Magic, Villains, Fireworks, Pyrotechnics, Heroes, Mickey, boat rides and more! This package is offered at Hollywood and Vine, Mama Melrose's and Hollywood Brown Derby. While I have eaten at both Hollywood Brown Derby and Mama Melrose's; I cannot recommend either. I especially cannot recommend Hollywood Brown Derby. Too expensive, food often of sub-standard taste by all accounts and by people I have dined with of all ages. All have agreed that Hollywood and Vine is the best of the three options specifically owing to the buffet as well as the Character Dining experience! Scroll down for some pictures of Hollywood and Vine and the Fantasmic show from a 2015 trip I took with the kiddos.

Hopefully I can update this post with recent pictures of characters at Hollywood and Vine! We have been at least a dozen times. That's how convinced we are of its awesomeness.

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Entrance from side of Hollywood & Vine Buffet and Character Meal Restaurant at Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World.

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Allergy-Free Brownie and Dairy-Free Ice Cream - a simple dream come true. Hollywood & Vine chefs prepare allergy -free desserts in house! The brownie is moist on the inside and just firm enough on the outside to withstand the creamy dairy-free goodness that sits atop.

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Example receipt. Do NOT forget to bring extra money for tips - MAN do those ever add up meal over meal!

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Specialty VIP Viewing Section for all guests who have eaten a "Fantasmic" meal earlier in the day. You receive a voucher at the end of your meal to gain entrance into the VIP viewing section of the nighttime show "Fantasmic". Do NOT lose that voucher! Depending on when you eat; you are very likely to still be stuffed from your meal. Disney feeds you well!

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The Mickey Section is the VIP section that you sit in when you arrive at Fantasmic utilizing your voucher that you received at your meal earlier in the day.

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While waiting for Fantasmic to start, my son showcases BOLT which he drew earlier in the day with an Animation specialist in the Animation courtyard. Sadly, this no longer exists inside the Disney Parks. The free drawing seminars have been replaced with Star Wars Launch Bay and character meet-and-greets. If you ask me, it was a FLOP SWAP. I just don't know why they get rid of great things when they could easily just expand to include them all. I never once saw an Animator's session that wasn't filled-to-capacity attended.

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The Hollywood & Vine entrance lit up in neon lights at night. Sorry so blurry!

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The Fantastic show begins!

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The Fantasmic show continues.

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Characters on neon-lit boats during Fantasmic performance.

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Fantasmic characters on boats sequence. Famtasmic is only shown at night. Typically there are two showings nightly.

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Numerous water displays with fountains, blasts and projections of light at Disney imagery on and over water. Fantasmic has quite an appeal!

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Showboat Sequence with many Disney characters towards the finale.

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Character Showboat Sequence at Fantasmic: Picture 2

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Character Showboat Sequence at Fantasmic: Picture 3

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Character Showboat Sequence at Fantasmic: Picture 4

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Character Showboat Sequence at Fantasmic: Picture 5

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Goodnight and Goodbye to Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World! You'll leave stuffed, entertained and fun-filled. You'll also have a little room to "spread your wings" at the end of the night as the park guests clear out and head "home" for the evening.

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Tram ride back to the parking lot with the son. Struggling to keep our eyes open or awkwardly keeping them open, we've had a tiring but food, fun and excitement-filled day.

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Outside the main entrance to Hollywood Studios. Sometimes there is a Photopass photographer here and sometimes there isn't. It's a better photo during the day.

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Baby girl celebrating her birthday at Hollywood Studios ! Looks like she still might have a little gas left in the tank! Nevertheless, it's bedtime and we can get back at it tomorrow!

List of Disney Dining Experiences at Disney World Spring Break 2015, Number Three (3): Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

Our number three restaurant is a BIG upset owing to the fact that looking around the grand old internet, Tony's Town Square Restaurant seems to score averagely across the board. Trip Advisor scores Tony's (as I'll simply call it from now on) at #328 of 2,930 Restaurants in Orlando. Also, on the star-system it seems to score and average of 3.5/5 stars. Why so high for us? Well dig in, my friends!

3rd Place: Tony's Town Square Restaurant

We LOVED Tony's mostly owing to the fact that we were famished but also because the food was delicious, the prices were reasonable, the presentation was lovely, the server was attentive and the ambiance was superb!

The wait was excessive and the drawback is that there was (and continues to be) limited space in the lobby. Hence, my kiddos camped out on the ground, up against a wall and next to the bathrooms.20150401_133558 Apart from this waiting scenario, the food was absolutely tremendous. I can still taste the tangy balsamic vinaigrette dressing that accompanied the incredible iceberg lettuce wedge salad with sugar glazed and coated pecans as garnish.

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What a feast for the senses. The presentation was fantastic, the food plentiful and filling as well as incredibly tasty. Additionally, I appreciate the "allergy" sticks. It's a clear marker to all at the table whose food is whose, especially when duplicates of anything are ordered. What more could you ask for? Ambience, you say?

We thought the ambiance was perfectly in keeping with the Lady and the Tramp theme.20150401_140531

Especially nice was the booth. Having eaten at Tony's on more than one occasion now, I can say that the best seats in the house are the booths next to the wall if dining within the restaurant20150401_140511 (because they are relatively private and rather quiet) or the bright and airy terrace seating with wrought-iron tables in white which gives a sense of alfresco dining albeit enclosed within glass so as to see Main Street U.S.A. and the flagpole surround easily.

Have you eaten at Tony's? Do you agree with this review? Write me a note in the comments section and I'll delightfully respond to you!

As they say, "Have a magical day!"

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Check Please!

Worst to Best: List of Disney Dining Experiences at Disney World Spring Break 2015, Number Ten (10): Monsieur Paul

I've now been to Disney World four (4) separate times. The last time I went, I HONESTLY spent one month and a small fortune. Twenty thousand dollars and counting. Yes, you read that right. $20,000.00. Let's just say that for the life of me, "money burns a hole in my pocket". I am *that* ridiculous of a spender. This is NOT the blog where I tell you how I paid off $52,000 in three months or the frugal ways in which I save a buck. No sireebob. I am a spender and I am STILL paying for it. Not to mention that I have *added* to my Disney trips with my next upcoming adventure happening in March 2016. This post is a recount of Disney Trip #2, Spring Break 2015 with my kiddos in tow. We judged and ranked e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and I'll be happy to write you back.

From twelve (12) to one (1), I give you the Worst to Best experiences as journaled and photographed by me and my kiddos during our Spring Break Trip 2015.

10th place: Monsieur Paul

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Waiting for our entrées at Monsieur Paul's

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Be like the French! Drink sparkling fancy water like Perrier! It's better from a glass bottle. Très sophistiqué!

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Selfie Time at Monsieur Paul's

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Lovely water in a turquoise-tinted glass at Monsieur Paul's. Very classy!

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Frothy soup appetizer at Monsieur Paul's, Disney World, EPCOT, French Pavilion

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Appetizer of Tartare at Monsieur Paul's

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Biscuit and Greens at Monsieur Paul's

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Un peu de beurre avec le pain, s'il vous plaît! Chez Monsieur Paul

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Le plat principal chez Monsieur Paul

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Le plat principal avec la soupe de l'oignon chez Monsieur Paul

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Plat principal de steak avec des asperges chez Monsieur Paul

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Un peu de "Ratatouille" chez Monsieur Paul

 

Outside the Entrance to Monsieur Paul's Restaurant. Moi, j'ai pensé que c'était assez bon comme restaurant!

Outside the Entrance to Monsieur Paul's Restaurant. Moi, j'ai pensé que c'était assez bon comme restaurant!

Monsieur Paul's comes in at 60% average total overall. Son gave it a 60%, Daughter gave it a 40% and I generously gave it an 80%. Monsieur Paul's is located in the France Pavilion at EPCOT.Here are some key reasons why we scored Monsieur Paul's Restaurant at an average total of 60% between the 12 year-old son, 9 year-old daughter and 39 year-old momma.

  1. By fault of my own, I booked Monsieur Paul's as a late night reservation that unfortunately ended up overlapping with EPCOT'S Illuminations of Earth Nighttime Spectacular. I had set to begin our reservation at 7:45pm. We were seated at the back of the restaurant nowhere near a window. As a result, my kids and I missed the entire show which we were genuinely bummed about. We subsequently ended up lamenting our decision to eat late night at Monsieur Paul's.
  2. On the bright side, I had the occasion to speak nothing but French to the wait staff and chef, that was positively delightful and formidable! It is one reason that I scored Monsieur Paul's higher than my children.
  3. My children were annoyed with the length of time the whole meal experience took. By night's end, we had spent over two hours at Monsieur Paul's. Possibly three hours. I think we were the *only* people in the park after we left the restaurant. On the bright side, we took many photos sans seas of people and that was very cool. My daughter had the opportunity to do cartwheels, flip flops and back handsprings throughout the open spaces of the park.
  4. The food was by and large, OK. In retrospect, as I look at the pictures and think back to the experience, I am not salivating at the thought of a return trip because Monsieur Paul's is a two credit restaurant.  
  5. I believe that to compensate for the pull of two credits from the Disney Deluxe Dining Program, they lengthen the time for all guests so as to make you think you are "getting what you paid for". In the end, it was a "lightly cool" experience predominantly owing to the fact that it was fun to speak only French. Ça c'était une experience très positive!
  6. The Dining Plan types accepted at Monsieur Paul's include: (see below large Monsieur Paul awning photo below):
    Dining Plan Type
    2016 Entitlements Required
    Dinner
    Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan N/A
    Disney Dining Plan 2
    Disney Deluxe Dining Plan 2
    Disney Premium Plan 1
    Disney Platinum Plan 1

    Frankly, I never even had the occasion to purchase a Disney Premium Plan. I honestly don't even know how much that would cost. Regardless, I find it odd that so many restaurants seem to be going the way of two credits. Almost as a regularity, our scores for our dining experiences rate two credit restaurants at the bottom of our lists. There will be ONE exception! (Wait for future posts to unfurl!) Unfortunately, Monsieur Paul is NOT that one.