Minnie’s Holiday Dine is a Christmas-themed character meal Walt Disney World is offering at Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This review features food photos, a look at the holiday finery Mickey, Minnie & friends done for the festive meal, and our thoughts on whether it’s worth it. (2017 Update: Minnie’s Holiday Dine is dinner and lunch this year.)
For starters, you should probably know that this meal is not cheap. It’s nearly $50 per adult or $30 per child, plus tax and gratuity. On the plus side, this is actually cheaper than Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine that we did a couple of years ago. We guess Santa Goofy doesn’t demand the same appearance fee as Darth Goofy.
This meal is also only one table service credit for those on the Disney Dining Plan and can be booked as a Fantasmic dining package. Given the price and that it only requires one credit on the Dining Plan, this is one of the best options if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan. This Christmas character meal also accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount or Annual Passes for a 10% discount. Still pricey, but arguably worth it…
Having been to Hollywood & Vine previously, we were cautiously optimistic about this meal. We knew that the dated interior had not been updated since our last meal. If you’re used to the fun atmosphere of other Disney’s Hollywood Studios restaurants, such as 50’s Prime Time Cafe or Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater…well, you need to adjust your expectations.
This is in sharp contrast to those gems, which are #1 & #2 on our Top 10 Themed Restaurants at Walt Disney World list. In sharp contrast to that, this would be right up there with Big River Grill & Brewing Works as one of the worst-themed restaurants.
I don’t know what they’re going for with this place, maybe a studio cafeteria? We’ve eaten at the actual commissary (Buena Vista Cafe) at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, and there’s a passing resemblance between the two.
I guess kudos for “nailing it” if that was the goal. I’d argue ‘studio commissary’ is probably a “theme” that should have never been attempted. Then again, I would’ve said the same about roadside dinosaur-themed carnival, so what do I know.
Let’s move on to the cuisine…
Hollywood & Vine had an awful reputation in terms of food for a long time, but we enjoyed our last meal there, and have heard really positive things about every single one of Minnie’s Seasonal Dines. Still, we had tempered expectations, as we do with pretty much any Walt Disney World buffet that isn’t Boma or Tusker House.
There’s a lot of stuff on the buffet, and I’m not going to cover it item by item. I will say that there is more variety than a buffet like Chef Mickey’s, for example. From cold items such as salads to meats, you have a surplus of choices.
One of my favorites remains from our last visit was just as good as before: the Lobster and Shrimp Mac & Cheese. I ate more of this than anything else, and I really like it for the nice texture, great flavor, and generous portions of seafood.
Other standouts included the pumpkin ravioli, buffalo chicken, and salmon. I was expecting the worst of the mussels, but they weren’t half bad (just over slightly half good…). The carving station ham was also very good.
The flank steak is not one of the carving station options, which almost seems surprising–I thought it was the best meat on offer. I ended up filling up mostly on a mix of the steak, mashed potatoes, and seafood mac & cheese.
The dessert options were a mixed bag. There’s some diversity to the mix and everything is appropriately seasonal, nothing was overly ambitious or particularly stood out. I did enjoy both the gingerbread and red velvet cakes; on the other hand the egg nog cheesecake was awful.
Unlimited, self-serve soft serve ice cream is one of those simple pleasures that I cannot resist. It tastes just like soft serve you’ll find virtually anywhere, but I love it.
All things considered, the Hollywood & Vine buffet once again delivered. It’s definitely not in the realm of Boma or Tusker House in terms of ambitiousness, but the quality is there. If you’re looking for good comfort foods, you really can’t go wrong with Minnie’s Holiday Dine.
That’s before we even get to the character element…
When you enter the restaurant, you meet Santa Goofy before even being seated. I’m pretty sure this is the approach with all of the seasonal Minnie meals. Initially, we were rushed through this, but went back later in the evening as our first round of photos did not turn out.
The characters here are exceptional. They don’t simply pose and try to move on as quickly as possible after a photo. They actually try to engage you–even adults without kids like us.
They also attempted to stage some really cool photos for us, including one with Daisy and Donald kissing at the same time as us. We messed up the timing, missing the photo they were after.
The one right after this would’ve been it, but we had already finished our kiss, and it looks like Sarah is recoiling from me in repulsion. I’m sure you’d all get a kick out of that, but I’ll spare myself the humiliation… 😉
I really like that they drew inspiration from Chevy Chase’s SNL portrayal of President Ford on Christmas Eve for Mickey’s dapper look here. (Tell me I’m not the only one who thought that when seeing Mickey’s smoking jacket…) It’s simple, but one of my favorite costumes of his.
In fact, we really liked all of the costumes the characters wear at Minnie’s Holiday Dine. None are the most elaborate outfits ever, but they are elegant and perfect for the holidays. I can see why so many families dress up in Christmas attire for this meal.
A big part of our success with the character interactions was that the restaurant really cleared out about halfway through our meal. Because we scored a (literally) eleventh hour ADR, we had no choice but to eat at 6:50 p.m. This worked out perfectly. I was able to catch a second showing of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! while Sarah checked us in, and we had the last seating of the night.
We were apprehensive that the food might be whatever was left sitting out at that point. Fortunately, it was not. Fresh food was put out right until after 7 p.m., and we prioritized eating because of this. Nothing tasted like leftovers or that it had been sitting under a heat lamp for hours. The real upside, though, was having the characters almost to ourselves as the restaurant cleared. By the end of our meal, it was just us and 2 other tables, and the characters were really having a lot of fun with things by the end of the night. Not just interactions with us, but around us and with one another.
It was really enjoyable, and Sarah made a new friend at the table next to ours in the process. (Long story.)
If you can, we’d highly recommend going for this last seating. Don’t worry about characters at the start of the meal–just focus on eating. By the time you’re finished with your food, the restaurant will start to clear, and you’ll have a much easier time with them.
Overall, Minnie’s Holiday Dine exceeded our expectations. Had we been on the Disney Dining Plan, I would’ve felt even better about the experience, but even paying out of pocket (with a high price tag, even after AP discount) I did not feel too badly about it. The food was better than last time we were here–and it was already good then. The character experience was also better, and we called that previous meal one of our favorites ever for character interactions. Considering that the price of Minnie’s Holiday Dine was cheaper than our last Hollywood & Vine meal and the experience was superior in both key regards, it’s pretty easy to be enthusiastic. We’d put this right there among the best of the formidable table service lineup at Disney’s Hollywood Studios–which is good, since you’ll need 3-6 table service meals to fill a day at this park.