We love all things Halloween at Walt Disney World. We also love comfort food, Fab Five characters in special costumes, and generally fun experiences. It should thus come as no surprise that we recently had a blast doing Minnie’s Halloween Dine in Hollywood Studios. (Updated September 14, 2020.)
This is one of several versions of the “Minnie’s Seasonal Dine” character meal that Walt Disney World offers at Hollywood & Vine Restaurant. This review features food photos, thoughts on whether it’s worth the money, and a look at Minnie & Mickey Mouse, Donald & Daisy Duck, and uh, just Goofy I guess in their special Halloween costumes, which are unique to this location.
As Walt Disney World’s phased reopening continues, DHS is preparing to reopen Minnie’s Halloween Dine as a modified character experience beginning September 25, 2020. Advance Dining Reservations are now available for booking, and other details have been released. Things will be a bit different when the restaurant reopens, with some good and bad changes…
You might recall from our Minnie’s Holiday Dine Review or our Best Character Meals at Walt Disney World rankings that we are big fans of that meal. In fact, we’re bigger fans than most others, judging by the reader comments of those who disagree with us. Well, spoiler alert, but we similarly loved Minnie’s Halloween Dine!
I’d go as far as to say that Minnie’s Halloween Dine is an absolute must-do if you have character-loving kids or love them yourself! Historically, we’ve been big fans of Minnie’s Seasonal Dine for guests who are on the Disney Dining Plan. With that temporarily suspended, it’s obviously a non-factor right now.
Another thing that has changed is the menu. As you’ll see in our normal review below, Hollywood & Vine normally offers an all-you-can-eat buffet. Given the circumstances, it’s temporarily switching to a prix fixe menu, plus family style salads to start. Here’s a look:
Another change comes in terms of the character experience. Below, you’ll see photos of us posed with the characters–as with other modified character meals, that won’t be the case this year. Instead, they’ll be doing a smile & wave character cavalcade through the restaurant.
It is possible to grab posed photos of the characters and quick selfies with the characters, but the latter is not easy. You can see what this is like in our Topolino’s Terrace Modified Character Meal Review or our Good Morning with Goofy & Pals Modified Character Meal Review.
Finally, the lineup of characters will differ slightly. This year, Minnie’s Halloween Dine will feature Minnie Mouse dressed as a happy witch, Goofy as a spooky cowboy, Mickey Mouse as a funny vampire, and Pluto wearing a Halloween collar. Essentially, Donald & Daisy Duck are being removed and Pluto is being added.
With all of the changes out of the way, here’s a look at our excellent experience last year at Minnie’s Halloween Dine!
Hollywood & Vine hosts Minnie’s Seasonal Dine throughout the full year for dinner, but remains Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine for breakfast, before “converting” to Minnie’s Halloween Dine for lunch and dinner. Throughout the year, the Minnie’s Seasonal Dine options are Springtime, Summertime, Halloween, and Holiday Dine–all running back to back with zero downtime in between each.
This also means that thematically, there’s not much that’s noteworthy at Hollywood & Vine for the seasons. It’s supposed to resemble a studio mess hall, and there’s modest Art Deco stylization to reinforce that look. It does vaguely resemble the actual commissary (Buena Vista Cafe) at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, so that’s also cool.
With so many brilliantly-themed restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this is pretty underwhelming by comparison. Nevertheless, Hollywood & Vine has a subtle yet charming look that could be appealing for a low-key meal. However, with characters, the atmosphere is never low-key in here.
In any case, pretty much no one is coming here for the core themed design, so we can file the last couple of paragraphs under “totally irrelevant” (and I already wonder why I typed them). Suffice to say, the setting for this character meal is loud and vaguely evokes old Hollywood thanks to the Art Deco and wall murals. It works.
Characters are really the point of Minnie’s Halloween Dine from an atmospheric perspective, and they are truly “spooktacular.”
When you enter the restaurant, there’s a backdrop with Minnie Mouse and a PhotoPass photographer (that’s right, no automatic box here!) who takes your photo.
We really like this approach, especially when the entrance character doesn’t replace one of the roaming characters in the restaurant.
Given that PhotoPass characters don’t accompany characters at Walt Disney World’s meals, it’s always difficult for us to get photos with both of us in them, unless an attendant happens to be lingering in the area.
Accordingly, this entrance photo op is great for us.
It’s also nice to have at least one image with a clean backdrop and without random strangers mid-bite as they dive face-first into a huge bowl of Vampire Repelling Mashed Potatoes with Garlic. (Respect.)
Costume-wise, all of the characters are bringing their A-games here. With that said, I think we can all agree that Donald Duck as a mad scientist is the clear winner at Minnie’s Halloween Dine. It’s just such a zany and perfect look for him.
Apparently, Donald previously had an astronaut costume here, which looked equally awesome.
The other characters all also have great Halloween costumes.
I’ve decided that I should start wearing a cape to character meals. As Mickey Mouse demonstrates, it’s such a great conversation piece, and also a great prop for interactions. Plus, I’m pretty sure GQ just named it one of the best men’s fall fashions. Right up there with top hats, canes, and monocles.
Unsurprisingly, we were also part of (and witnessed) some fun character interactions at Minnie’s Halloween Dine.
Most memorable was a small child running away from Mickey (in terror?) after Mickey fanned out his cape. Mickey chased down the child across several rows of the restaurant, catching him, ironically enough, in his cape. Somehow, everyone in Hollywood & Vine–except that family, the character attendant, and us–was entirely oblivious to this.
After successfully returning the child to his family, Mickey hammed up his relief over the ledge by our table. (This is probably one of those “you had to be there” stories–it was a hoot in person.)
Let’s move on to the buffet food…
Lately, we’ve been commenting a lot on Walt Disney World’s move to ‘elevated character dining’ with cuisine that appeals to both kids and more refined palates. This is not that.
It’s also not something like Boma or Tusker House, which are buffets featuring a variety of more adventurous options and more ambitious flavors.
Rather, Hollywood & Dine “goes hard” on the comfort food, and does a pretty admirable job nailing most of its dishes in terms of quality and freshness.
Contrast this with something like Chef Mickey’s, which is similarly serving up comfort food, but is not executing on nearly the same level.
Perhaps it was because Walt Disney World just unveiled its new plant-based initiative (which is a mix of marketing a lot of old items and introducing some new ones), but Sarah was also pleased to find a surprising number of plant-based options on the buffet.
In fact, she thought the Three Bean Quinoa Cake (pictured above) was the very best thing on the entire buffet. I respectfully but very vehemently disagree.
On the other hand, it did seem like some of the more ambitious options we enjoyed last time at Minnie’s Seasonal Dine were missing from the buffet.
Notable omissions included mussels, flank steak, short rib, and pumpkin ravioli–a particular disappointment given how fitting it would be for Halloween!
I was underwhelmed by the options from the carving station.
Frankly, this is becoming more the rule than the exception–I can’t recall the last time I got something that wasn’t dry and overcooked from those stations.
To be fair, I don’t take meticulous notes on what is and isn’t at the buffet each time we go, so I’m really going off of what I’ve mentioned in past reviews.
It’s worth noting that I did not mention ribs or lamb stew last time, both of which were present this time. It’s very well possible all of the “missing” items were actually one-for-one replacements. I just hope my favorite meats weren’t replaced with a bunch of plant-based options, which I fear was the case.
No offense to the vegetarians or vegans out there. I’ve become an “involuntary flexitarian,” but not when it’s time to go hard at a Walt Disney World buffet.
On the plus side, some of these plant-based options look like they’ve been imported from the Upside Down and are straight-up nightmare fuel. Scarily fitting for a Halloween buffet! (I kid…)
After the obligatory forkful of the plant-based items, I ate the equivalent of a full rack of ribs…plus several helpings of seafood mac & cheese…plus fish…plus lamb stew…plus garlic mashed potatoes…plus, plus, plus!
All of the aforementioned items were delicious. (To my recollection, dessert was also pretty good, but I was already on the precipice of food coma by that point.)
I may or may not have eaten so much that I felt sick afterwards and had to sit on a bench in Echo Lake for a bit immediately upon leaving the restaurant. You could say bad decisions were made, but I have zero regrets.
If anything, now I want to return for Minnie’s Holiday Dine and do the exact same thing so I can bask in the glow of Echo Lake at Christmas while blissfully recovering from my food coma.
Overall, Minnie’s Halloween Dine really impressed both of us. The characters, costumes, and interactions were wonderful, and I remain convinced that the characters here have more fun than at any other buffet at Walt Disney World. Without fail, this venue is always a hoot and not just the standard ‘pose and move on’ character meal. That alone cements our desire to return here at Christmas and for the other seasonal meals we’ve yet to do.
Then there’s the food. I know this is where Hollywood & Vine is more divisive, but we’ve had great success here with all of our meals for the last 3-4 years. In this review, I made several cracks about the plant-based options, but Sarah liked or loved many of those. (I didn’t, but then again, I only sampled small bites and focused primarily on meats.)
I found almost all of the meats I devoured to be excellent, and we both left full and satisfied. It’s one of those rare Walt Disney World buffets that nails the comfort foods, but also offers a range of options to keep lighter/healthy eaters happy. We continue to highly recommend Minnie’s Seasonal Dine, and will definitely be returning in the near future.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have you done Minnie’s Halloween Dine or any of Minnie’s Seasonal Dines? Do you agree or disagree with our review? What did you think of the food? What about the character interactions and costumes? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!