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.
Entrance from side of Hollywood & Vine Buffet and Character Meal Restaurant at Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World.
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.
Example receipt. Do NOT forget to bring extra money for tips - MAN do those ever add up meal over meal!
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!
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.
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.
The Hollywood & Vine entrance lit up in neon lights at night. Sorry so blurry!
The Fantastic show begins!
The Fantasmic show continues.
Characters on neon-lit boats during Fantasmic performance.
Fantasmic characters on boats sequence. Famtasmic is only shown at night. Typically there are two showings nightly.
Numerous water displays with fountains, blasts and projections of light at Disney imagery on and over water. Fantasmic has quite an appeal!
Showboat Sequence with many Disney characters towards the finale.
Character Showboat Sequence at Fantasmic: Picture 2
Character Showboat Sequence at Fantasmic: Picture 3
Character Showboat Sequence at Fantasmic: Picture 4
Character Showboat Sequence at Fantasmic: Picture 5
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.
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.
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.
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!