Counter Service Shake Up

Over the past few months, I've noticed a trend occurring at Hollywood Studios that isn't so easy to see.  Being that I'm at the park once a week to take photos, often I'm looking for the obvious changes like new attractions, new displays and other changes.   Admittedly, I don't very close attention to the menus in the park as they don't change that often.  Or so I thought.  Over the past few months, I've noticed a number of counter service restaurants changing their menus and it's something that's rather encouraging to see.

Let's be honest, as much as I love Disney's Hollywood Studios, I'll be the first to admit that the counter service menus in the park are not exactly the finest in Walt Disney World.  They aren't bad either, just somewhat generic and carry that saying "if you've eaten at one counter service restaurant at Hollywood Studios, you've eaten at them all".  It seems lately, Disney has been making strides to remedy that and broaden the menus at the counter service locations in the Studios.

The first place I witnessed these changes was the ABC Commissary.  I wish I could say it was being improved here, but that isn't really the case.  Disney removed a number of items from the menu here such as the Cuban sandwich and Tabbouleh Wrap that used to be on the menu.  This was just the beginning for the changes as at other restaurants, the menu updates weren't limited to just removals, but additions and in some cases, complete changeover.

Minn and Bill's Dockside Diner changed their menu and removed those stuffed pretzels and salads and replaced them with Italian sausage with peppers and onions, hotdog in a pretzel roll, bratwurst and some salads.  In my opinion, Minn and Bills went from a forgettable snack stop to great option when you're in the mood for "carnival food".

Over on Sunset Boulevard, Toluca Legs moved down the street and Fairfax Fare ditched the taco salad, hot dog and pulled pork sandwich in favor of some more items I've never seen before in the theme park.  Beef brisket, 1/2 slab of St. Louis Ribs, 1/2 chicken and other options were added in it's place.  Like Minn and BIlls, these menu items are things I haven't seen on a counter service menu in Walt Disney World before and that excites me.

The most recent change has happened at Studio Catering Company, where they ditched one of the worst menus in my opinion for some brand new fare, including a pressed Tuscan deli roll, buffalo chicken sandwich, Greek salad and more.  These changes along with the ones listed earlier, are part of a trend at Hollywood Studios to update what guests can eat quickly at the Studios and to borrow a phrase from an artery clogging food chain, I'm loving it!

Why should you care about these changes?  The reason I'm excited about this trend is when I'm at Walt Disney World, I don't want to eat the same thing every day.  All to often I would fall into ruts during my vacation where I'd end up eating the same food everywhere I went, such as burgers, hot dogs and similar offerings.  I like having variety and choices and while you can still find that sort of food at the Studios, there's now lots of other options and having too many choices is the kind of problem I like to have!

All too often, we criticize Disney for homogenizing the food around Walt Disney World and offering "more of the same", but in this case, I have to tip my hat to the Mouse because what we're seeing here is an effort to shake things up.  I'm willing to bet that in just the new menu items I've listed here, there's one or two (or more) items that after you read it, thought to yourself "Oooh, that sounds like something I'd like to try".  Disney fans love to debate which sit down restaurant is their favorite, but I'm hoping these changes will get guests to take another look at counter service options at the Studios and try some new dishes to see if there's one of those "only at Walt Disney World" entrees that you want to have each and every time you visit the park.  

The official line from Disney would be along the lines of "Walt Disney World is always looking to further enhance the guest experience" or something like that, but the truth is I really feel like there's an effort to make the dining options better at the Studios and I, for one, am glad to see these changes here finally.  Now the only question is what do I try first and where did I put my "stretchy" pants.

This post is part of the DisMarks Disney Blog Carnival

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 by