December 6, 2009
It is our first evening in Walt Disney World and I booked this meal with great trepidation. I had read such mixed reviews on it that I finally decided I needed to find out for myself what the real story was.
Our reservations were for a dinner at 5:35 pm. There are no characters here in the evening. When I booked the reservations I was grateful for that as too many character meals can start to overwhelm my children. I thought starting off with a nice simple buffet would be in everyone’s best interest.
We arrive 15 minutes early for our advanced dining reservation. We parked my son’s medical stroller nearby and waited until a space opened up on the expansive porch. There were two seating areas (one on each side of the check-in station) that were completely full and many families standing along the railings. After about 5 minutes a space opened up and we quickly took seats on the porch. Within 3 minutes of our sitting down our name was called. I could definitely feel tension from some of the other people awaiting their names to be called as we walked through as many of them had been there waiting when we got there. We just happened to have the right number in our party and I am assuming having the advanced dining reservation did not hurt any.
As we entered the restaurant I noticed how bright it is inside. It is reminiscent of a diner to me. Peach colored booths and Formica looking tables with metal chairs in harsh bright white lighting. We are seated at the first table to the left of the beginning of the buffet. As I sit I notice that the chairs aren’t as solid and sturdy as I thought they were. They are light weight aluminum. I say this because as I went to pull the chair out, thinking it was very heavy, I almost flung it into the wall behind me.
Our server is quite pleasant but appears to be very overwhelmed with several tables and a large family birthday party next to us. There are 15 people of whom 7 are children under the age of about 6 and not being well contained. Wow!
We order our drinks water for everyone and sodas for after. We head up to the buffet for our first pass through.
This is my first plate. It is a bit difficult to see but starting at the center top and working your way around clockwise are sliced beef. This was a rare cut and actually fairly tender. Not a lot of flavor but still had a fairly good texture. Barbque Chicken is underneath the piece of beef. This was pretty pedestrian. I could have made it in my kitchen at home. Tasted like a bottled sauce on a piece of baked chicken.
Green Salad with my favorite Balsamic Dressing. Roll with butter. Tuna Noodle Casserole with peas. I love tuna noodle casserole. This was okay. It definitely needed more salt and pepper and then was actually quite tasty. Then the favorite item on my whole plate. I would have just eaten a plate of the garlic and parmesan mashed potatoes. In fact I think that was 70% of what my second plate was, potatoes.
This was my 9-year-old daughter’s first plate. She is a fairly adventurous eater but she thought this buffet had the best childrens’ buffet of any in any of the parks we had been to. She loved the choice of baked chicken instead of the usual nuggets or strips. The green beans had almond slices in them and there was also a choice of corn. Her favorite items on her plate were the peel and eat shrimp and mussels though. Her second plate consisted almost entirely of the mussels.
This was my partner’s salad plate. She enjoyed having a bit of variety in the greens here that she had not seen on other buffets. There was even watercress in the greens. The ginger broccoli slaw with soy nuts on the left was declared her absolutely favorite thing of the entire evening. The broccoli was not over dressed and soggy. The ginger was perfect not too much, not too little and the soy nuts added the perfect crunch to the whole dish.
This was dear son’s first place. Though not quite adventurous as his sister he also had several mussels and thoroughly enjoyed them. He also tried the macaroni and cheese from the childrens’ buffet and actually said, “It tastes just like the macaroni and cheese at Crystal Palace.” I did not have the heart to tell him it was the same as on every buffet we go to as he was so proud he recognized that it was the same.
This was my partner’s second plate. She tried a few more items. She thought the ginger chicken was rather bland and wanted soy sauce or something to add to it to give it some flavor. (top center on rice). The pork loin in the center was good but too big a slice for her. The salmon, bottom left, was dry and flavorless. She far preferred the salmon at Crystal Palace.
This was our dessert plate to share. I am a chocolate girl through and through and was very disappointed that the only item containing chocolate was the ice cream. The ice cream wasn’t even that tasty here. It had an almost granular consistancy like it was kept too cold or for too long. The key lime tarts were okay. The children liked the whipped cream and maraschino cherry off the top the best. The seven layer bar was similar to one I make at home and the kids said mine was better in that it was “mushier” – moister.
So that was our dinner.
Would we go back again? Probably not if we have another choice of restaurants in Disney Hollywood Studios but if that is the only restaurant there is at least we know we can all find a few things we like.