Dishin’ on Disney Dining Part 3: Play N’ Dine at Hollywood and Vine

For our last full day in a park, and our second at Hollywood Studios (on a 7 day pass we spent 3 days at Magic Kingdom, 2 at Hollywood Studios, 1 at Animal Kingdom, and 1 at Epcot) we had lunch scheduled at Play N’ Dine at Hollywood and Vine.

We managed to squeeze a whole lot in on our first day at Hollywood Studios (HS), and didn’t have a meal reservation in the park that day since we had late dinner reservations at the Grand Floridian for the Storybook Dinner with Cinderella and friends (I’ll be getting to that one eventually).  So on our second day at HS, the plan was simple: see the Beauty and the Beast  show, ride Miss A’s 2 favorite rides again, and have lunch at Hollywood and Vine.  We planned to ger out of HS early and spend the evening shopping in Downtown Disney – it was the best plan we could have come up with, because shortly after arriving back at our hotel , it started to rain…and rain…and RAIN.  This was the only time it rained our entire trip (I am so grateful!) and it couldn’t have been timed better.

But I digress, we’re talking Dining now, rides and shows will all come later.

As I mentioned last time, my biggest beef with Disney Dining is the plethora of buffets. It gets old – fast.  First of all, it is frustrating to try and make your child leave the table to get something to eat when they are petrified they will surely miss seeing so-and-so if they leave the table for even a second. So, sure the parent can go and choose foods for their kids, but as a parent, I was petrified that I’d leave the table and miss my kids seeing so-and-so and not get any pictures  – aaaaah! All this tension makes for a less than relaxing dining experience.

Also, like I said before, I’m on vacation – I want to be served, I want to feel taken care of, and after standing in lines all day, I don’t want to stand in line so Miss A can have some mac’n cheese!

The husband was the first to point this out, and maybe it’s because he is about as picky as Miss A and ate the same 2 or 3 items at each buffet…but once he said it, I realized it’s true: no matter where you are eating: the food at Disney is all the same. It all tastes the same. It’s not horrible, but it’s definitely not wonderful…and the buffet delivery just makes it taste even more like cafeteria fare.  I hope this is not the case at the more expensive “gourmet” dining experiences Disney offers…but I have to wonder.

So the food isn’t anything to write home about…and that’s true at any of the buffet meals we had. I would much prefer to sit down and order an individual meal – but I suppose that isn’t as cost or time effective for Disney as the trough. Bottom line is Miss A ate the mac’n cheese wherever we went, and so it could have been worse.

Enough about that, the food isn’t why we were there anyway: it was for the interaction with the characters! At Play’NDine, the featured characters are from Playhouse Disney: the day we had lunch, we met JoJo and her pet lion Goliath of JoJo’s Circus, and Judy and Leo from Little Einsteins.

The characters came around one at a time to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

jojo and miss a 2

Well, Goliath didn’t  sign autographs – his paws you know, so JoJo did it for him.

girls with goliath

The first day we were at Hollywood Studios, we happened to catch JoJo and Goliath at their “Character Spot” (designated locations throughout the park where specific characters will do meet n’ greets). So while it was nice to see them again, it could have been a pass for us.

Then Leo and Judy came around (I don’t know if the other 2 Einsteins characters rotate, or if it’s always these 2).

posin with Leo best

posin with June best

And while Miss A enjoyed meeting them, they are not very high on her list, and she wouldn’t have been heartbroken if she had missed out. Maybe it’s because, at 6, she’s passed the target audience for these guys, but I wonder what other Character Meals HS could design to appeal to a wider audience.  A Movie Meal with Star Wars and Indiana Jones characters would be awesome!

The interior of Hollywood and Vine wasn’t anything special – it was set up like a cute, kitschy Diner, but it wasn’t better than Ed Debevic’s back home – and not up to the “Wow!” standards of the indoor drive-in theatre of the Sci-Fi diner.

What made me feel as if my money wasn’t completely wasted was the Playhouse Disney Dance Party they held during the meal. All the kids are called to join in the fun in the middle of the diner for dancing and extra time with the characters.

As usual, Miss A was all over that.

h and v dance time 2

She danced with Goliath.

Miss A chats up Leo

Chatted up Leo.

fun with June

Had some fun with June.

hollywood parade with jojo

And marched in a parade with JoJo.

So yes, she had a nice time.  But at Disney, a “nice” time just isn’t enough. You know?

All in all, it just wasn’t a memorable enough experience to warrant a return visit.

Oddly enough, the place we went for lunch at Hollywood Studios the first day we were there was an unscheduled stop suggested by the husband, and it was a great, memorable experience that we plan to do again for sure – look for it, I’ll be dishin’ on it soon.

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