Where to Eat: Minnie's Holiday Dine at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Hollywood and Vine at Disney's Hollywood Studios is always one of our family favorites. Our three year old especially loves the Disney Junior character breakfast and lunch that is offered on a daily basis. When we heard about a new event, Minnie’s Holiday Dine, we just had to try it. We were lucky enough to snag a reservation during the opening weekend.
When we arrived, we checked in at the podium outside and were given a pager. We took a seat on the porch, and, within minutes, our pager went off and a server called our name. We joined a short line that had formed of people who were waiting to be seated. When we went in, we learned why there was a wait - Santa Goofy was greeting families and taking photos by the entrance.
This was a pleasant surprise, as the line to meet him over by the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights is usually pretty long. We were happy to save some time! After we took our photos with Goofy, we were offered a card that had signatures from all the characters that would be at the dinner. Our hostess explained that the characters would not be signing autographs at the table - they would just greet the families and pose for pictures. This was not an issue for us, as we do not carry autograph books; however, it’s possible that families who do would be frustrated by this change.
Our server arrived and took our drink order. Soft drinks, juice, milk, coffee, tea (iced and hot) are included in the price but they do have a selection of wines, beers, and cocktails for an additional charge. Our waiter was also kind enough to point out that Minnie and Daisy were nearby and we should hold off on going up to the buffet until we had visited with them, as they would be by very shortly. We appreciated the heads up and waited on the food! Minnie and Daisy gave our daughter some extra attention when they came by, which she loved. We also saw Donald and Mickey throughout the meal; and most characters stopped by at least twice. The interaction was great and the characters were all dressed in festive holiday clothing, which made for some fun pictures.
We were pleasantly surprised when we did finally make it up to the buffet. There was a selection of salads, including tomato and mozzarella caprese salad, peel and eat shrimp, mussels, soups, rolls, and pretzel rolls for appetizers. Everything was fresh and delicious, especially the caprese salad.
The dinner food included a variety of holiday favorites, such as green bean casserole, corn bread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, carved to order turkey and ham, pumpkin ravioli, and roasted Brussels sprouts. There were also some of the usual Hollywood and Vine favorites (lobster-and-shrimp macaroni and cheese, Asiago chicken breasts, and barbecue meatballs) as well. In addition, the kids’ buffet had chicken nuggets, carrots, plain pasta, baked chicken, roasted potatoes, and tater tots. Plenty of adults were also enjoying food from the kiddie area!
All of the food was very good. Everything was fresh and served in small oval dishes, which were replenished often. There was never a line for the buffet, as people tend to jump around rather than waiting in one long line.
There is a separate dessert buffet in the center of the restaurant, which was festively decorated with specially made holiday displays. The chocolate fountain was running but my favorite feature about this treat is that they dip the items for you and then put them on trays for you to take. It makes it safer and healthier for everyone. All of the desserts were holiday themed and decorated beautifully. They offered fresh peppermint bark, chocolate peppermint dipped marshmallows, gingerbread cupcakes, pumpkin pies, pecan tarts, eggnog cheesecakes, red velvet cake, chocolate dipped strawberries, soft serve ice cream, and some other goodies. All of the desserts are tiny, allowing you to sample just about everything! A tip would be to take one of the larger dinner plates to allow more room for your desserts because the plates at the dessert buffet are really small. It was a nice way to end the meal, even though we were already stuffed!
This meal was truly an enjoyable experience. The food was delicious and the character interaction was wonderful. It definitely had a festive holiday feel to it, even with limited decorations around the restaurant (as this meal is only offered for dinner and the daytime meals are still Disney Junior themed, there is only so much they can do with the short turnaround time they have between lunch and dinner). It was fun to see all the characters in different holiday clothing than ever before. The restaurant also periodically played a Christmas song and the characters danced. People really got into it and we saw lots of Santa hats, holiday light necklaces, and holiday clothing. We had a 6:45 seating and did not feel rushed at all. In fact, we did not leave until about 8:30. At that time, the park had already closed for the day and as resort guests, so we were able to stay for extra magic hours. We spent that time visiting the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which was not terribly crowded, and was lovely.
Disney recently decided to make the Hollywood and Vine character dinner a year round event. As long as they keep up with the seasonal menu and theming and, I think they have a winner on their hands!
"We were lucky enough to snag a reservation during opening weekend."
While we haven't done this specific dining experience before, we have dined at Hollywood and Vine in the past. I'm actually surprised they're able to pull off a character meal here, because the dining room felt rather cramped as a straight buffet. I wonder if they removed some tables when they converted this to a character meal to make it easier for the characters and guests to move around the room. The dining room also seems really small for a character buffet, which I'm sure will cause reservations to be difficult to come by even outside the holiday periods.
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