I had always considered the Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine character meal at Hollywood & Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (yikes, lots of words there) to be second rate character dining. What I mean is that it is attended by zero of the big characters. While that is true, there is still a certain charm in dining with lesser known figures, so we decided to take the leap and play ‘n dine for breakfast.
It was very tough for me to accurately judge the atmosphere at Hollywood & Vine. It is meant to resemble a diner with linoleum flooring and lots of shiny metal, but I feel like the theme falls well short. The room is way to big and open to look like a real diner, and there are many chain restaurants that go for the same look. It comes across more as a chain than a diner (welcome to Bob’s Big Boy!…wait, is that still a thing?).
The other factor that made it tough for me to judge the theme was the overwhelming lack of customers. Our reservation was for 9:20am (so we could grab our Toy Story FASTPASS tickets prior to eating), and I expected the restaurant to be partially full. What I found was a nearly empty eatery, with approximately 11 tables of customers when we arrived. By the time we left at about 10:30am we were one of five tables. It was weird and made for a very subdued atmosphere.
The characters you find at Hollywood & Vine are most certainly not for everyone. If you do not have a child between the ages of 2 and 8, you have probably never heard of Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates), June (from Little Einsteins), Special Agent Oso, and Handy Manny. As a father who has had many experiences with all of these shows, I can comfortably say that you are not missing much.
Children’s show quality not withstanding, the characters are fantastic, exactly as I expected. They looked great, acted wonderfully, and interacted with the kids perfectly. I can say those things confidently becuase we saw each character about 456,751 times (I may be exaggerating, but not by much). In all honesty, I lost count when June came to see us for the seventh time. Due to the low number of people in the restaurant, the characters got bored. They therefore decided to seek out whomever was around…which was us.
This is in no way a complaint because I would rather see the characters too much than not at all, but even my three year old rolled her eyes the last few times she got up to hug Handy Manny. I tried to get Jake to sit with us for a while, but that is probably against protocol. One thing that is done regularly is a dance routine to one of the popular songs from the represented shows. These are led by a very excitable cast member along with the characters. They try to get as many children as possible to come up and dance with them. As you can imagine, when there are only about 7 children in the building, they do not have great luck.
Overall I have no problems with any of the characters or handlers at Hollywood & Vine, but I did feel bad for them. They were clearly bored, and even the kids could only get excited a handful of times to see the same people.
Blah. Okay, okay, I will elaborate. The food was blah. Fine, I’ll explain what I mean. Since it was breakfast, we had eggs, sausage, bacon, Mickey waffles…all the same stuff you will find at every character breakfast buffet on property. It was fine, but clearly heatlamped (yes, I’m reduced to making up adjectives). The food would not keep me away, but I would certainly not go there for the food, either.
Odds, Ends, and Details
All meals served at Hollywood & Vine are buffets, although only the breakfast and lunch are accompanied by characters. The breakfast costs $25 ($14 for 10 and under), lunch is $29 ($16 for 10 and under), and dinner is $33 ($16 for 10 and under) with prices increasing during certain peak seasons.
I feel like I have been tough on the Play ‘n Dine, but it was not a bad experience. The restaurant being empty was actually a funny bonus, and we certainly did not suffer from lack of character interaction. As I mentioned the food was of no consequence, neither a draw nor a deterrant.
If you have a kid who is a fan of one or more of the characters, this is a great way to meet them and, in the case of June or Oso, the only way. Otherwise, I recommend skipping this one since there is no particular draw for someone not interested in meeting one of those characters.
Have any of you been recently? Was there anyone else there, or was my visit an abberation?
Thanks for reading!
Other Character Meal Volumes:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Chef Mickey’s
- The Garden Grill
- Princess Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
- Cape May
- Crystal Palace
- Tusker House