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Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano

A popular restaurant in Disney's Hollywood Studios is Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano, which serves some really tasty Italian food.  The restaurant that many guests enjoy today ended up in the Studios only after other plans fell through.

In 1989, Disney was in negotiations with Jim Henson to acquire the rights to his Muppets franchise and among other things, bring the Muppets to Walt Disney World. The plan called for an area of the Disney-MGM Studios to be turned into a Muppets themed land, with Muppet Vision 3D one of the attractions.  

In addition, there were plans for a restaurant called, "The Great Gonzo's Pizza Pandemonium Parlor" that would be based around the idea of Gonzo and Rizzo opening a celebrity restaurant.  It would feature TVs throughout the restaurant that would showcase classic Muppets clips along with animatronic Muppet rats delivering pizza to the tables by way of a "train track" system.  Other gags would include typical Muppet chaos of chicken feathers flying about, smoke, explosions and pandemonium in the kitchen with the Swedish Chef.

When Jim Henson suddenly passed away in 1990, plans for a Muppet land in the Studios (along with the restaurant) went away.  The problem was the restaurant was already being built so Imagineers had to come up with a new idea for the Italian restaurant.

Imagineers finally settled on the idea of an Italian restaurant that featured Hollywood memoriabilia that would be called, "Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano".  The name Mama Melrose is completely fictional and for a brief period a dress up character appeared in front of the restaurant to promote it.

As it turns out, Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano ended up in the Studios because of plans for an entirely different restaurant that fell apart.

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About this column

Ever seen something in Hollywood Studios and wondered why it was placed there by Disney's Imagineers? Matt Hochberg leads you on a regular look at the hidden details in Hollywood Studios and explains why it's there.


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Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 by
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