This post ranks the best quick service restaurants in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, a park with notoriously bad counter service options. In fact, “best” here might be a bit of a misnomer, as it could be more of a question of which restaurants are the “least worst.” Rankings are based upon a restaurant’s overall appeal, with factors such as cuisine quality, theme, uniqueness, and menu variety taken into account.
While I think Disney’s Hollywood Studios is actually underrated when it comes to table service dining, the same cannot be said for its counter service options. It doesn’t have a single restaurant on our Top 10 Counter Service Walt Disney World Dining list, and accordingly is the only Walt Disney World theme park not represented. Now, the counter service options at Disney’s Hollywood Studios aren’t awful, there’s just no real draw or anything that leaves a lasting impression. If your budget allows, I highly recommend doing table service meals here; you’ll certainly have time given the lack of attractions currently operating in the Studios.
Note that these rankings focus only on the major counter service spots at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so not every outdoor vending cart and little location makes the list. We’ve dined at all of these spots, but have yet to review most of them…largely because there’s little to say. Our meals at most of these spots have been out of necessity when we couldn’t get into 50’s Prime Time Cafe or Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, and we simply had to eat somewhere.
Let’s get started with the Disney’s Hollywood Studios counter service rankings…
5. PizzeRizzo – I’m guessing this is either going to be your favorite or least favorite counter service restaurant at the Studios. It’s my least favorite. PizzeRizzo replaced Pizza Planet a few years ago, but aside from some light, cosmetic changes, it’s basically the same thing. PizzeRizzo still totally phones it in with a very utilitarian look and only scant decorations to hint at its Muppets connection. This alone is a real disappointment, as it could be a really fun and hilarious dining venue.
The other big disappointment is the food, which is generic pizza. It comes as no surprise that this is a pizza restaurant, but the problem is that there’s absolutely no ambition. It’s all greasy, over-processed “Almost Pizza.” On the plus side, portions are large. It’s a decent guilty pleasure, I suppose, but PizzeRizzo leaves a lot to be desired and has a ton of unrealized potential.
4. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner – When a glorified outdoor vending cart is this high on the list of places to eat, you know the park is in trouble. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner has some decent options, although it’s mostly a good option when you’re waiting for fireworks and want something nearby and convenient.
The menu constantly changes here, but you can usually find a few comfort food staples, and those are safe–but uninspired–choices. It’s too bad Min & Bill’s menu is so small, and doesn’t feature more exciting options.
3. Backlot Express – Backlot Express scores points mostly because you can refill your drinks here, the only place with such a drink station at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (What can I say, it’s a low bar.) Actually, Backlot Express has a few things going for it. It has the most involved theme of any of these restaurants, with a bunch of props, set prep work, and other areas in Backlot Express.
This isn’t to say the execution here is exactly brilliant (it feels a bit sloppy), but it’s something. Then there’s the menu, which includes a couple of interesting burgers, elaborate salads, and several Star Wars-themed items. I am partial to the Caprese Sandwich, which is good, but not great. This isn’t the most inspired dining option at Walt Disney World, but it gets the job done.
2. Sunset Ranch Market – This is the outdoor food court on Sunset Boulevard near Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, with Fairfax Fare being the main restaurant here. I’m lumping them all together as one because they are basically separate ordering bays for the same restaurant.
There are some flashes of quality here, such as with the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Rosie’s All American Cafe, pictured above. During busy times, you might also have a hard time finding a table here that isn’t in the direct sun. There are also stands for turkey legs, burgers, pizza, and ice cream in this market. Basically, “variety” is what gives Sunset Ranch Market the #2 ranking here.
1. ABC Commissary – ABC Commissary wins because…drumroll…it has air conditioned seating and televisions! I’m only slightly kidding. The air conditioning and Modern Family clips on the TVs are nice…even if the menu leaves something to be desired.
I considered ABC Commissary an underrated gem based upon their upscale dinner menu, which is the best option at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in terms of counter service dining. Between that and the pleasant ambiance (it’s not particularly well-themed, but it’s a nice place), ABC Commissary wins here. This is more of a ‘for lack of better options’ scenario, so ABC Commissary fans (all 3 of you!) shouldn’t be doing cartwheels over this victory.
The key takeaway from this is that counter service dining at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is decidedly ordinary and uninspired. There are flashes of quality here and there, with other spots having 1 or 2 menu items that stand out, but you’re unlikely to have a meal at any of the other 5 locations that you will really remember after your trip. If you can, you really should try to avoid counter service meals at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Either by doing table service, or Park Hopping elsewhere around meal-time.
As for the counter service locations at DHS, the menus are disappointing, but what’s perhaps even more of a letdown is the theming at these locations. I am a strong believer that good theme can elevate a restaurant at Walt Disney World and make it a real draw. After all, theme is what Disney does best. There are a number of table service restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that demonstrate this, and some of our favorite places to dine at the Studios are favorites more because of their environments than their menus. This isn’t the case with the counter service restaurants, all of which are more decorated than they are themed. The one-two punch of largely weak menus and weak themes makes Disney’s Hollywood Studios the worst park at Walt Disney World for counter service dining.
Which Disney’s Hollywood Studios counter service restaurant is your favorite? Have you dined at any of these restaurants? Which did you like and dislike? We love to hear from readers, so if you have any thoughts or questions, post them in the comments!