*This dining experience took place in May 2014.
Note: The Star Wars™ Character Dinner at Hollywood & Vine is a special character dining experience that took place during the 2014 Star Wars™ Weekends.
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I got a chance to enjoy the first Star Wars™ Weekend festivities with a character meal dinner at Hollywood & Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Meeting Jedi Mickey and the rest of the gang, it was a chance to have a galactic meal to commemorate the special event weekends.
When Disney first announced special character meals during Star Wars™ Weekends, I knew I had to try them at least once. Hollywood & Vine hosted a dinner with Jedi Mickey, the rest of the Fab Five (in Star Wars costumes) and Chip & Dale as Ewoks (how you could not see these cuties!?). This was my first visit ever to Hollywood & Vine; however, I was able to connect with the chefs from 50’s Prime Time who also work at Hollywood & Vine (they share a kitchen) and check with them on food offerings for gluten free & dairy free diners. Before my visit, they shared with me a lot of the options available to me, and I was looking forward to checking them out.
When we arrived for dinner, it wasn’t too crowded, though we planned for an early dinner. I tend to make early dinner reservations for buffets, so that I can ensure I get to make a big pass through the buffet before as many other people do, to help with cross contamination risks (chefs will bring you food from the back typically, but in some instances they aren’t too keen to do so, so I always prepare just in case). We first got in a line to check in. The kiosks set-up for the event made the check-in process go quickly & smoothly.
Once we got checked in, we were sent to another line near the entrance. There, we waited for a few minutes before taking photos with Chip & Dale dressed as Ewoks. Can I just say how adorable these two are? I mean, seriously. Adorable. They had the best costumes of the entire meal. Chip & Dale should dress as Ewoks all the time.
Once we got seated were were given our Fantastmic Dining package vouchers (which was a $4 upcharge to the meal) and paper light saber cutouts. Fun!
As you can see from our photos, the restaurant was pretty quiet once we got in. Hollywood & Vine has a retro diner theme, and you can see the touches throughout the seating area.
Once our server took our drink order, we were greeted by Storm Trooper Donald. He was awesome. The photo we took came out really dark, but trust me. It was good! Once Donald moved along (nothing to see at our table), out came Chef Eugene. He took me around the buffet and showed me what were safe options – which were plentiful. He also offered to bring me back rolls as well. I had pre-ordered dairy free mashed potatoes but that memo didn’t get to him. He offered to make me some in the back (more on this later).
Here are some of the gluten free & dairy free options. And check out the names. They are totally Star Wars™ inspired. From what I understand, this is the regular menu just with Star Wars™ names. Get ready now for the onslaught of pictures…
These photos don’t include all the choices but there were definitely a lot. I will say though, that if you are a vegetarian or vegan, this might not have the best offerings. It’s very meat protein heavy, as you’ll see by the photos of my buffet plates.
One strategy I use when buffet dining is getting all of my food at once. I load up multiple plates so that I don’t have to go back to the buffet again and I have lots of food. As you can see here, I loaded up quite well. I do this in case the chefs don’t want to bring me food from the back, which happens on occasion. I feel more comfortable getting items straight from the buffet, when it’s early (i.e. restaurant just opens) or a fresh plate has been added with new serving spoons. On this occasion, only some items were brought from the back for me.
First up were the cold salad options. I love peel & eat shrimp, so I got a lot of these. I also got the mussels, potato salad, a slaw with soy nuts and cocktail sauce. My favorite thing on this plate was the slaw with soy nuts. Really quiet delicious, and I loved the various textures in the slaw. The potato salad was pretty plain, so I wouldn’t probably get that again, but the shrimp & mussels were good.
As you can see by this plate, I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned there were lots of meat options. Most of this was just OK – I wouldn’t say it was the best buffet options but not the worst either. My favorite thing on the buffet was hands down the Chipotle BBQ chicken thighs with citrus. This was fantastic and a real standout for the meal. I am really glad I got a bunch of this too. The only thing on my plate I really didn’t enjoy was the plantains. I’m not a huge fan of them to begin with mostly because of the texture, so that’s a bit of a personal dislike.
With my dinner I had GNI brand rolls. They were heated fairly well, but did not come with any accompaniment (Earth Balance or extra virgin olive oil). Next time I’ll be sure to ask for some.
Remember those dairy free mashed potatoes I mentioned? I have to say that I really appreciated that Chef Eugene offered to make them for me; however, something got lost in the translation of making these. They used to be made at 50’s Prime Time with extra virgin olive oil and were amazing. These were made with Soy Milk & Earth Balance – which would have been OK except that the soy milk was vanilla flavored. I don’t know about you but vanilla & mashed potatoes just don’t go together. My whole family tried them and everyone agreed these weren’t very yummy. Next time, I think I’d skip these unless I knew they were made with EVOO ahead of time.
When it came to dessert, I wish there had been some options on the buffet safe for gluten free & dairy free diners; however, there were none. That being said – that was one impressive buffet. Check it out!
I was glad to hear that I did have a dessert option that I enjoy – the allergy house-made brownie with non-dairy ice cream. And I was even more excited when I learned it was So Delicious vanilla ice cream. Holy moly, you have no idea how excited that made me! I am a huge So Delicious fan, so knowing it’s now on property just made me so giddy. Sure, it’s currently only the vanilla flavor, but that’s fine by me!
This was so amazing. The combination of a rich brownie and coconut milk ice cream with Hershey’s syrup makes me happy. It’s the little things! Of course, I was so stuffed by the meal’s end I’m surprised I got the whole thing down…but of course, I did.
Overall, I thought that Hollywood & Vine offered a lot of options which is great. It was nice that there were so many items that were gluten free & dairy free on the buffet line. I also really love the dessert here which makes me happy. As far as a buffet goes, it’s certainly not my favorite. I would likely choose to go to 50’s Prime Time over Hollywood & Vine if it were between the two or another Hollywood Studios restaurant. For the event, the price was really high – high enough that I wouldn’t do it again next year if it’s offered. That being said, the character interaction was really good here, and I felt like we had ample time to see characters if we wanted.
I’d give this experience a 6.5 out of 10.
Have you been to the Star Wars™ Character Dinner at Hollywood & Vine this year? What did you think of the special diets offerings?