*This gluten free dining experience took place in July 2018.
Dinner at Woody’s Lunch Box
Woody’s Lunch Box is the newest quick service restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios located in Toy Story Land which opened at the end of June 2018. After seeing a ton of photos on Instagram and on other social media of the gluten free options available to guests, I knew we needed to make a visit. We had fastpasses for the Alien Swirling Saucers in Toy Story Land on the Fourth of July, so we planned on grabbing dinner while we were there.
Though the crowds were relatively light that evening, we ended up having a less than magical experience at Woody’s Lunch Box. As you’ll read from my review, I think even a small amount of crowds, the small ordering space, and the fact that the kitchen is still getting the hang of the menu, really impacts the experience you have at this quick service restaurant. I’ve heard some really fantastic experiences, unfortunately, ours was not one of them. I still want to give it another chance, especially for breakfast (more on that later!) And, I’m hoping this was just an isolated incident.
Woody’s Lunch Box is meant to resemble Andy’s lunch box, now opened for a restaurant for all “honorary toys” (aka Disney guests) to enjoy. If you’ve ever been to Bug’s Land (RIP!) in Disney’s California Adventures, you’ll find a lot of similar theming inspiration in making everything feel big, as if you’re a tiny visitor to the land.
Woody’s Lunch Box actually looks like a real lunchbox turned on its side. This means there’s no indoor seating. So, expect a walk-up counter similar to some of the other quick service spots in Hollywood Studios, like Catalina Eddie’s.
There’s a moderate amount of outdoor seating, some of which is shaded. It was fairly full when we visited. And the restaurant wasn’t all that busy comparatively. So, I can only imagine how hard it was to find a seat during opening weekend.
Even the cash registers were well themed. How cute is this?
Woody’s Lunch Box is sponsored by Babybel Cheese. So, you’ll see lots of Babybel Cheese wedges throughout the restaurant, including as seats! (shown in the photo above by the restaurant’s entrance). I totally need to sit in those Babybel Cheese chairs!
As of early July 2018, Woody’s Lunch Box does not currently offer an allergy-friendly menu. When you reach the cash register, you’ll ask the cast member to speak with a manager who will advise you of the special dietary needs options available to you.
We were advised that pretty much all of the menu could be made gluten free. Sides like Macaroni Salad and Tomato-Basil Soup both contain gluten, so those are no-go’s for gluten free guests. But, the Potato Barrels (aka Tater Tots!) are safe, as they are “fried” in convection oven. Although I did not ask about it on this visit, I have heard mixed reports about whether or not the vegan chili in the “Totchos” is gluten free. We’ll definitely be checking this out again to confirm.
For those guests who are dairy free or vegan, the restaurant offers Daiya vegan cheese (which is also gluten free) for any sandwich or for the “Totchos,” which is great.
After speaking with the manager, we decided to order the BBQ Brisket Melt with Potato Barrels and the Kid’s Grilled Cheese with Potato Barrels. The manager told me to wait near the counter but on the side as my order would take a little longer to prepare. They do not, at this time, have pagers for guests with special dietary needs.
Brandon ordered a gluten-filled sandwich and when his was ready, he grabbed a seat for us while I waited. And waited. And waited. About 18 minutes in, I was brought one tray with the BBQ Brisket Sandwich and was advised that my regular Kid’s grilled cheese would take a bit. At this point, I realized the manager must have rang up the order wrong (as another manager prepared my food), and didn’t mark the kid’s grilled cheese gluten free.
Once I realized the error, I quickly informed the other manager who said, “Oh. I’ll be back.” and then did not return for another 15 minutes. She gave me the now cold BBQ Brisket sandwich that had been sitting there the entire time and a half cooked grilled cheese. I did speak with her about the long wait, the need for pagers, and why she didn’t remake my sandwich. The manager advised me that they were busy and that I was the 5th allergy order and that the wait was due to that, although I did not see any other allergy order pick-ups while I was waiting. She seemed quite frazzled and did not offer to remake my sandwich that had been sitting.
Ultimately, I just went ahead and grabbed a seat with the food, as I was definitely rather tired of hanging out at the counter for 30 minutes.
The first sandwich was the BBQ Brisket Melt with Sliced Smoked Brisket, Pickles and tangy BBQ Sauce between melted Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheeses on Gluten Free Bread. Our sandwich came without cheese, though we didn’t request it this way. I am guessing they were busy and forgot it.
I think this dish would have been really delicious warm/hot. Unfortunately, ours was not hot after sitting around for a while. But, we could tell the flavors of the sandwich were still good. The brisket portion was quite large. And, we enjoyed the combination of BBQ sauce and pickles added to it. I would be interested to see what it tastes like with cheese (now that I’ve reintroduced dairy back into my diet).
The Potato Barrels were OK. I had both hot and cold versions on my plate. So I did get to taste them while they were still warm. I think they could have used some seasoning, as they were just plain and a bit bland.
The Kid’s Grilled Cheese included Melted Provolone and Cheddar Cheeses with a Cheddar Cream Cheese Spread on Garlic Buttered Grilled Gluten Free Bread served with a Mandarin Orange, Potato Barrels and your choice of Beverage (we opted for a Small Dasani Water). For those guests who are dairy free, you can order this with dairy free / vegan Daiya Cheese. So, it’s nice to see that as an option.
I have to say that the Kid’s Grilled Cheese (which somehow ended up a full sandwich instead of half), was amazing. This was the winner of the two sandwiches. This may have been because it was actually warm. But, overall, we thought the flavors were outstanding. Both Brandon and I loved the garlic butter on the bread and the different kinds of cheeses in the sandwich. That being said, it was rich. Splitting it and sharing a half portion was definitely the way to go.
Here’s a close-up photo of the Potato Barrels. Brandon actually ordered a second side of these mostly because he felt the portion served with the sandwiches was on the small side. Then again, we’re both big fans of tater tots because you really can’t go wrong with tots (even if they’re kind of just basic).
The only downside we saw to the Kid’s Grilled Cheese is that it wasn’t melted all the way through. In other words, they didn’t cook it long enough. For comparison, here’s a photo of Brandon’s gluten-filled Grilled Cheese. You can see how ooey-gooey and melty it was. It’s a big difference in the look of how they are cooked.
While we didn’t have a particularly great experience here, we do want to visit again. I think we’ll wait a bit before heading back for a lunch or dinner, since those are the busiest times. And, it may be easier to avoid until they get the hang of things in the kitchen and with handling special dietary needs orders there. But, we would definitely go back sooner for the breakfast, as we’re dying to check out the gluten free version of the S’more French Toast Sandwich. Fairy Tale Foodie has a post about this on their blog, and it looks amazing. Overall, Woody’s Lunch Box has a ton of potential for really fabulous special diets options, and we hope things will improve as the restaurant goes forward.
Have you been to Woody’s Lunch Box? What did you think of the special diets options?