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At Disney Restaurants, Is Theme More Important Than Food?

4 Feb

Image from Studios Central

When you’re sitting down to a meal at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, are you more concerned about the quality of the food, or the themeing of the restaurant? There’s quite an interesting discussion going on about that over at Studios Central, in comments responding to Matt’s recent review of the Sci Fi Dine In at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

happy at the Sci Fi

See how happy we are? October 2006: Surprise trip to WDW, and went straight to the Sci Fi.

I’m of two minds, myself. Perhaps it all depends on my mood, and the circumstances. The food at the Sci Fi is kinda lousy, but when I’ve brought WDW first-timers there, they’ve all raved about the place. Clearly it’s not the burgers and fries — those are literally the same burgers and fries you’re getting at every other table-service joint (maybe every quick-service, too). It’s the cheesy B-movie trailers, the hostess on roller skates, the silly cars you sit in. It all makes you forget that  it’s too dark to read the menu, and too loud to talk to anybody. And it was even better before they told the Cast Members to stop shouting out at the films, Rocky Horror-style.

When my brother-in-law and his wife came to Walt Disney World last summer, there were two in-park restaurants I insisted they try: The Sci Fi, and Le Cellier. The Canadian steakhouse didn’t suit their tastes, but they left the drive-in theater smiling.

On the other hand, I’ve been to the Sci Fi so many times now that I’ve grown weary of the movie loop, and if I’m gonna plunk down my hard earned Disney Dollars on a sit-down meal, I want it to be worth the price. I’m happier at Le Cellier than the Sci Fi. I’ve also been enjoying the 50s Prime Time lately . . . but the themeing there is also excellent, so it’s hard to tell what’s affecting my choice.

Power outlet

Sometimes it's all about the grab for power

And of course, sometimes all I really want is a power outlet, and I’ll eat whatever greasy fish-and-chips they might happen to have on hand if I can get a spot by the balcony at Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe, so I can power up that damn phone to keep the Lines app alive for the rest of the day.

These days, I’d rather drop into the Sci Fi for a milkshake or dessert than actually have a full meal there. But dining reservations and wait times being what they are, I rarely want to invest that much time in a snack. I’d still bring first-timers there for sure, though.

I think what bothers me about the argument is that I don’t know why it’s so hard to do both. Why should we have to choose? Certainly some restaurants do both very well: The 50’s Prime Time, the California Grill, Le Cellier all among them. I agree with Studios Central commenter Newkrew35 when he says, “I think Disney rests on the fact that the Sci-Fi is a draw for the theme and not the food. Too bad we can’t have it both.”

Jentasmic! Around the World in Disney Days

26 May

My Jentasmic! column at StudiosCentral.com this week starts on facebook, and travels around the globe:

The other day, I found myself listing the five things I’d immediately spend tons of cash on if I were to hit the lottery big time. Yes, the charitable foundation and the big house were at the top of my list, along with sending my husband to Mongolia (honest, he’s wanted to go there for decades). And, you guessed it, so was a fabulous vacation to all the Disney Parks around the world. (After all, my spouse will be in Mongolia for a while, and the boy and I need to keep ourselves occupied somehow, right?) I’ve been to nine of the Disney Parks already, only missing Tokyo DisneySea and Hong Kong Disneyland, but I’d love to take a leisurely couple months to visit them all sequentially, and also enjoy some of the surrounding areas.

Head on over to read the rest….

My Star Wars Obsession Continues

23 Apr

It’s 57 days until I get on that flight to MCO for Star Wars Weekend! Not that I’m counting or anything. Not like I’m planning every detail in my mind already. But y’know, all kindza cool Star Wars stuff has been catching my eye on the interwebs lately.

Vintage Walt Disney Cartoon: Alice’s Egg Plant (1925)

7 Jul

Chickens going on strike! An oversized mouse laying an egg! Check out Alice’s Egg Plant, one of the Alice comedies made by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in the 1920s. (Might want to watch it with the sound off . . . the soundtrack was dubbed in later, and is somewhat distracting. Thanks Crayshen for posting it to YouTube!)

You might notice one of the main characters strongly resembles Felix the Cat . . . this is not an accident. From Wikipedia:

Julius the Cat, later renamed Mike to match the name of Ike the Mouse which he often appeared with, bears a striking resemblance to Felix the Cat. This wasn’t accidental: Charles Mintz, who distributed both the Felix series for Pat Sullivan and the Alice series for Walt Disney, had insisted on this in an attempt to emulate Felix’s success. Ike the Mouse on the other hand, bears a striking resemblance to a nude Mickey Mouse. This couple was one of the earlier attempts to create a cat and mouse pair in the animation business.

Ah, the earliest forerunners of Itchy and Scratchy . . . it warms my heart.

Fast Pass is Changing, but How?

8 Jun

Something’s up with the FastPass system at Walt Disney World, but there isn’t any conclusive evidence right now about exactly what’s changing. MouseExtra has some details, and also some speculation:

. . . if the goal is to keep people off lines, and theoretically in shops and restaurants, it is possible that Disney has concluded the current system doesn’t go far enough to achieve that, and I would agree.  If you walk into Epcot at noon, and grab a FastPass for Soarin’, that pass may not be good until hours later, thus putting you in normal stand-by lines for everything else you may want to experience.  When this happens, the original intent is essentially lost, and most e-ticket rides during the busiest seasons have FastPass return times far enough out to make using it only truly an option on a few rides per day.

The longest standing rumor is that Disney will eventually either charge for FastPass, much like Universal already does, or they will offer it as an added perk for staying on property.  Charging seems unlikely at this point, but using it as a perk makes a lot of sense for the Mouse.  The goal has always been to keep people on property, and offering this as an incentive would be a nice selling feature.  At the same time, however, the off-site guest may not find it such a good idea.

Plenty of interesting discussion taking place on MouseExtra too.

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