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Dinner and a Movie....At Walt Disney World?

Friday, July 08, 2011

When I vacation or even visit a city away from my hometown I have a couple of rules I like to follow.  One of them is doing something I can’t do at home.  If I can do it at home why on earth would I want to do it on vacation?  About 8 years ago me and my wife Kim were sitting at the Polynesian Resort contemplating our evening plans when she suddenly belted out “Let’s go see a movie tonight!”  Needless to say, I did a double-take.  With several question marks all over my face I told her “We can do that at home.”  As Kim explained to me we are on vacation and with vacation comes the freedom to do what we want no matter what the activity.  After a healthy debate I ended up losing the battle and my rule had to be broken.  So, it was off to the AMC Theater at Downtown Disney. 

Over the years the Downtown Disney AMC Theater had become a bit rundown.  During a visit in 2009 we both made the comment of how it seemed the theater in general was in need of some upgrades and general maintenance.  Well, someone was listening because in late 2010 it was announced the AMC Theater would be going through a refurbishment.  At the same time some of the theaters would be converted to what AMC considers a “Dine-In Theater” experience.  This isn’t a new concept.  In fact, there are some theaters across the country which incorporate this same type of experience including other AMC theaters. 

We decided during a recent trip to Downtown Disney to check out the new AMC Dine-In experience.  We went to watch Kung Fu Panda 2.  When we purchased our tickets at the box office we were assigned seat numbers.  Your seat number is printed on your ticket.  When you present your ticket to enter the theater your server will take you to your seats.  It appeared seats were assigned as best available when you bought your tickets.  Once we were seated our server asked us if we wanted drinks or anything from the snack bar.  This is a great added touch.  You don’t need to wait in line at a snack bar before your movie.  Your server will bring you any snacks including popcorn and drink refills before and during the movie. 

The menu provides you with a lot of choices.  There’s pasta, chicken, and plenty of other menu choices to consider.  If you decide you want to enjoy a meal from the menu you may not want to order a snack from the bar.  The portions are large and will fill you up.  However, if you are a foodie like me you may want to sample as much as possible including snacks.  Sharing entrees with friends and family is a good idea since you get a large portion of food.  A kids menu is also available with a nice selection of choices for children ages 12 and under to enjoy.  One thing you should know is kids under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult in order to enter the Dine-In theaters.  The menu prices are on par with many other casual restaurants outside of Walt Disney World.  Of course, movie snack bar prices are outrageous.  If you can avoid the snack bar food you’ll be better off.  If you are considering dining out at one of the other Walt Disney World restaurants the Dine-In Theater is a great alternative.  The menu food is less expensive and the service is more personalized.  The only other cost consideration is the price for your movie ticket(s). 

Another great benefit of visiting the AMC Dine-In Theater is a bar and lounge in the lobby called MacGuffins.  It's named after a term coined by the famous filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.  It's a full service bar serving mixed drinks, beers, and a full menu.  We saw several guests ordering food and eating inside the lounge before our movie.  It is possible to walk into the lobby and just enjoy the bar without buying a movie ticket.   

One feature we really found convenient was the service aspect of this experience.  If your party needed anything there was a button at your side.  When you push the button your server is alerted and will come to your seats.  If you need a soda, popcorn refill, or something else off the menu they are ready to help you at anytime with little or no delay.  Because the service is so convenient you could easily eat and spend more than you anticipated inside the theater. 

Towards the end of your movie your server will bring you the bill.  It’s a very similar procedure to most restaurants where you provide a credit card or cash and your server returns a slip for you to sign or your change.  The tip is not included in your price.  Currently, the Dine-In Theaters do not accept any Disney discounts on the food or drink, nor can you use the Disney Dining Plan.  However, our server did tell us they are working with Disney to provide food discounts and possibly becoming a Dining Plan location..  You can get an annual pass discount of $2 off adult movie tickets.  Be sure to show your pass at the box office to receive the discount. 

Although this theater has gone through a nice transformation and offers the Dine-In Theater option I’m still standing by my rule of not going to a movie on vacation, especially since I can do it at home.  But I must say, the Dine-In Theater experience has spoiled me.  It’s very convenient and a much more enjoyable experience than going to a regular movie theater.  When my wife suggests a movie at Walt Disney World in the future I’ll probably hesitate and think twice about it knowing the Dine-In Theater experience is available.  With so many other entertainment options at Walt Disney World it’s hard to settle on going to the movie theater.  I guess I can’t be selfish.  When you are married you have to compromise, right?  Maybe if she twists my arm I’ll go.  I promise!  *crosses fingers*.    

Next Up:  I look back at Star Wars Weekends 2011 with lightsaber in hand. 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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