Yesterday I headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to check out a couple of new things and try the new menu at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner. The first thing I noticed before I even got to bag check was the big Monsters University topiary display from Epcot‘s Flower & Garden Festival was now in front of Hollywood Studios. It moved there shortly after the festival ended to continue the promotion of the movie which came out last weekend. They also added some posters with information about the different fraternities and sororities in the film along the back of the display so guests can learn more about the characters before going to see the movie.
Once inside the park I headed straight for The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. Even though this attraction is fairly new, it already underwent a refurbishment and got a few changes. In the preshow area the skull that talks to you now really doesn’t say much of anything except to fill all available space basically…not much of a preshow at all. Then in the actual show they cut out the part featuring the Kraken and made some other small changes. You can see the full video here:
Next I headed over to the Studio Backlot Tour. Even though it was early there was still a full preshow. Despite the heat and number of people there were no volunteers to participate in the preshow, so instead of watching people create a scene the Cast Member just described to us what would have been happening if there were volunteers. He talked through all of the motions and they even set of the explosions and everything, but it was still really boring. I felt bad for anyone in the crowd who had never seen the show and thought that was all it was.
On the actual ride not much had changed. However they did finally replace the Tron billboards (advertising a DVD release from 2 years ago) at the top of the back of Lights, Motors, Action. These billboards now feature Disney Infinity, the upcoming video game from Disney Interactive.
Near the exit of the tour is the Monsters Inc. meet and greet which was recently rethemed to Monsters University. I actually visited it last week but didn’t get a chance to write about it. The new area has been redone and features class and faculty pictures, typical college notice boards, televisions broadcasting school announcements…it’s really very immersive. I enjoyed reading the notices on the bulletin board and watching the television loop advertising classes and describing teachers. Of course, it was also great to meet Mike and Sulley in their college outfits. My only issue with this area is that the lighting isn’t very good. A lot of my pictures came out really dark with odd patches of light. This is the best one I had.
Also new(ish) in Hollywood Studios in The Lone Ranger sneak preview being shown in the old Sounds Dangerous theater. The preview is being shown every 30 minutes beginning at 10am. I really had zero interest in seeing The Lone Ranger, but I do really like air conditioning and wanted one of the cool Lone Ranger buttons they were handing out, so I decided to check it out. I honestly walked into the preview with no intention to ever see the movie and walked out with plans to attend a midnight showing opening day. The extended preview (about 15 minutes) made it look really good! It seems to have some of that Pirates of the Caribbean feel where there is action and adventure but also humor, and it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. They also played portions of the soundtrack while we were waiting for the show to start, and it sounds incredible. I’m sure this is the kind of reaction they intended when they decided to show these clips, and it worked.
It was finally time for lunch. I headed to Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner to try out the new cone options (they removed the Caesar Wrap and put these in its place). The cone “handwiches” made a comeback in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. We also then got there here in Florida at a cart in Downtown Disney. While the ones at DCA are generally very good and a huge fan favorite, I didn’t care for the ones served at Disney World’s Downtown Disney. But I was willing to give these a shot. They have a sausage one that seems similar to one of the Downtown Disney ones, so I just ordered the 2 unique ones: Cajun Shrimp Salad ($9.99 with chips) and Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado Salad ($8.99 with chips).
With the Cajun Shrimp Salad I was really expecting blackened shrimp (even if they were then chilled and served cold) and lots of spices. I had a realistic expectation: I know this is theme park counter service food, so I wasn’t expecting a ton of heat or flavor. However, I was not in any way prepared for what I actually got: tough, over-cooked shrimp in a disgusting sauce that seemed to heavily feature mayonnaise and vinegar, tomatoes, and flavorless green peppers. I couldn’t figure out a) why they thought to call it Cajun when there was nothing Cajun about it or b) how on earth they got it to taste so truly awful. I could hardly bring myself to swallow the one bite I took and nothing could have convinced me to try a second. It was disgusting.
I was hoping for more from the other option. Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado are three of my favorite things. Once again I was very disappointed. The avocado was an unnatural processed green color that tasted completely artificial, the bacon was flavorless and overly chewy, they chicken was dry and plain. They also added onions in an attempt to add flavor but they seemed out of place completely. Again the whole dish was inedible. I even tried some of the plain cone to see if that was any good and it was dry and gross as well. I really appreciate Disney trying to put new foods in counter service locations that aren’t burgers or chicken nuggets…but if the dishes aren’t edible then the effort is wasted.
Since I was still hungry I headed to Backlot Express to get a kid’s meal to finish filling me up. The restaurant had an extended queue set up in the ordering area in preparation for large summer crowds, although it was still early when I went and not too crowded yet. They had a new swirly souvenir cup on the menu available in 2 different sizes and 4 colors. I’m not too sure why they have generic souvenir cups instead of the usual Disney character mugs since they don’t really seem to fit any theme…but I saw several people buying them (I guess that right there answers the question).
After my disastrous first attempt at lunch I played it safe and got a Smucker’s Uncrustables (peanut butter and jelly sandwich) kid’s meal. I chose fries and a cookie for my sides and (combined with my chips from Min and Bill’s) I had more than enough to fill me up. It wasn’t the most glamorous choice but at least I knew I would be able to eat it.
At that point the crowds and heat were really building and I decided to call it a day and head out of the park.