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Best Places to Eat in Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney Dining Terminology
Quick Service Restaurant/Meals: these are cafeteria or fast food-style restaurants. You stand in line, order from a fairly broad but pre-set menu, receive your meal on a tray, go to the soda fountain and condiments bar for drinks, ketchup, and napkins, silverware, etc. and then sit at one of several tables set up like a mall food court. Think Five Guys or B Good.
Table Service Restaurant/Meals: these restaurants offer slightly better menu offerings and sit-down table service (with waiters/waitresses taking your order). Make reservations, though, as they fill up fast!
Disney Dining Plans
Walt Disney World offers meal plans (known as Disney Dining Plans or DDPs) to guests who stay at their resorts or who book their vacation using Disney Vacation Club points. There are basically two major types: quick service (like fast food or mall food court restaurants) and table service (sit-down restaurants). The DDP essentially gives you a pre-paid voucher for a certain number of meals and/or snacks. Your Key to the World card (your room key card that essentially also allows you to charge souvenirs and, of course, meals while you're at the resort) helps you electronically monitor how much (or how little) of your allotted vouchers you use, on a per room basis.
One of the meal plans offered at Disney World is the Quick Service Meal Plan. This plan gives you a set number of meal coupons based on the number of people in your travel party. When we went to Hollywood Studios, we were staying at Disney’s All Star Music resort and it was just the two of us for four days/three nights. So we had a total of 18 meal coupons, which were good for lunch and dinner at any of a number of Quick Service (think Five Guys or B Good, mostly) restaurants throughout Disney World. Disney makes it easy to know what is available to you at each park by listing these restaurants on the back of each meal coupon.
This article reviews two places where we ate (one a Quick Service restaurant, the other a coffee bar à la Starbucks, which does not take meal plan coupons) and one table service restaurant we placed at the top of our list for our next visit!
Where to Eat on a Budget at Hollywood Studios: Quick Service Dining
If you’re on the Quick Service Meal Plan there are several options available throughout the park, all serving lunch and dinner on a continuous schedule (most open at 11:00 a.m. and stay open until at least 8 p.m.). They all serve more or less the same fare (Angus burgers, specialty sandwiches, chicken nuggets, salads and fries) so it really depends on where you are in the park when you decide to stop for lunch. Beware, though, that the Quick Service, cafeteria-style restaurants fill up to beyond capacity quickly! Your best bet is to use the time standing in line deciding what everyone would like to order and then leaving one person to handle ordering while the rest of your group goes in search of seating for all of you. (Divide the labor and conquer the lunchroom!)
Backlot Express: A Quick Service Dining Review
We chose to eat at the Backlot Express mainly because it was the closest open place to where we were; it’s located right next door to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Even at 2:00 p.m. the lines for ordering were almost out the entrance and the available seating was minimal, in spite of the fact that it has two large dining rooms. However, one plus was that the line for the ladies’ restroom (we went twice in two hours) was never long…we were always the next ones up! I ordered the grilled vegetable sandwich; it was disappointing so I highly recommend sticking to the cheeseburgers or the salads. Two sandwiches, 2 orders of fries, 2 sodas and 1 kids' meal dessert ran us about $20.00.
Hollywood Studios Quick Service Eateries: Your Opinion
What's your favorite Hollywood Studios Quick Service eatery?
Sci-Fi Dine In Theater
If you are looking for a Table Service restaurant, many of my friends (and their kids!) have recommended the Sci-fi Dine In Theater Restaurant. They play campy sci-fi films on a screen and the restaurant itself looks like a 1950s drive-in movie theatre; the tables are in chrome-trimmed convertible cars! There are even carhops that bring free popcorn and your meals straight to your “car!” We didn’t go, however, because my daughter doesn’t like science fiction and got scared just at the thought of having to endure sci-fi films with her meal. (If you’ve been, please share your experience in the Comments!) However, the Table Service restaurants fill up even faster than the Quick Service ones so stop by early or, even better, call (407) WDW-DINE and ask about their availability. Also, if you're on the Meal Plan, make sure your coupons are valid for Table Service locations (check the back of your meal coupons for a listing of places where you're covered).
A Foodie Oasis for a Light Breakfast or Snack
By far the best-kept secret at Hollywood Studios is The Writer’s Stop. It does not accept the Meal Plan though it does take the standard credit and debit cards and it is not on any official Disney map of Hollywood Studios or the daily Times Guide! (So, basically, ask a Cast Member for it by name; it’s tucked away in a small corner near the Streets of America side of the park.) It offers the very best coffee (actually the only good coffee during our stay) at any of the Walt Disney World parks and resorts – although I heard a rumor last year that Disney might allow Starbucks in (if you’ve spotted a Starbucks at WDW, please let us know in the Comments!) – as well as smoothies, drinkable slushes, yogurt and pastries. A cinnamon bun cost us $3.19, a strawberry yogurt went for $1.99 and a regular coffee was also $1.99. It is a small space but, no matter what time we stopped in during the day, it was never crowded. The atmosphere is upscale modern café. It has a few tall dark wood tables and stools and a couple of couches. It sells Disney-themed kitchen gadgets and coffee accoutrements for the more urbane, sophisticated, mature Mouseketeer… and it sells books! It’s a quiet oasis for grown-ups and kids alike to take a load off and relax.
The Writer's Stop: The Best Kept Secret at Hollywood Studios
We'll Be Back!
Although Disney definitely is not a foodie haven, by any stretch of the imagination, all in all we did not eat badly and finding The Writer’s Stop made Hollywood Studios my all-time favorite Disney World park! Next time we go, though, I will definitely convince my daughter to try the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater; after all, it’s my vacation, too, right?
Share your experiences at Disney's Hollywood Studios (or your plans) in the Comments below! Did you love it? Did you hate it? Share your story, please!