Minnie’s Holiday Dine Review
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.
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.
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Have you done any of the ‘Seasonal Dines’ at Hollywood & Vine? What did you think of the food? What about the character interactions? Do you agree or disagree with any of our review? Does this character meal look appealing to you? 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!
We just got back and did the Halloween dine. It was our most expensive meal and we were disappointed. We’ve ate there before and loved the character interaction and buffet. However, we didn’t get a normal character photo when we arrived, food was entree and nothing special. We also didn’t get all of the normal characters. We had other character meals that were better (not saying a lot this trip) and Boma. Things would need to change before we would book H&V again. It just didn’t have the fun factor anymore for the kids or adults.
I really wish these posts had dates of the original posts or updates!
We did the Holiday Dine in early Dec (2018). It was awful! We waited almost 30 minutes past our reservation time before being seated. We again waited quite some time before a server came to our table for our drink order. I was about ready to go find someone to ask if we even had a server when one finally showed up.
The food wasn’t the worst we’ve had at Disney (that would be Garden Grill), but it wasn’t the best, either. It was definitely a meal where you know you’re paying for the characters, not for the food.
As for the characters, even with as much time as we spent in the restaurant waiting for our server to show up, we still didn’t get to see all of the characters. I can’t remember which one we didn’t see, but it was frustrating. If you’re in a restaurant for over an hour, you should be able to see all of them at least once. This has only happened one other time, and that was at Garden Grill.
One side note that no one talks about but is important if you have small children – the bathrooms. Hollywood & Vine shares bathrooms with its next-door neighbor 50s Prime Time Cafe. So if you have a little one in need of going NOW, forget it. You’ll be in line waiting for a stall to open.
We’ve dined here for breakfast and dinner, but won’t return.
Hi Tom; is there a way to tell when the Christmas dine will begin? We are visiting 10-19 of November.
Hi. I am not Tom, but I just called Reservations today and made them for Dec. 6, 2017. I was told that it will not show until Sept. when Halloween is being completely switched over.
My Reservations read, “Minnie’s Holiday Dine Hollywood and Vine”
Just a quick line we will be there the same night small world huh
I’m already starting to plan for our December 2017 trip (the week before Christmas). I really want to see the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Fireworks as my son and I LOVE Star Wars but last December, the show was at 6:15pm to make room for the Jingle Bell Jingle Jam show which is around the time dinner is for our kids (5 and 2 1/2 year old). I’m thinking of doing the Star Wars show at 6:15, making an ADR at Hollywood & Vine (booking it as the Fantasmic dining packing) at 6:40, and then seeing the 8pm Fantasmic show. Is this an insane and unrealistic plan or is this doable??? Thanks!!!
We did this last year and we so disappointed. Not only was the food terrible and the price high but the character interaction was minimal. I am glad to hear you had great character experiences. In all honesty, I never like the food at character meals, we go for the experience. And when that is bad, paying the $200 for a crappy dinner breaks my heart!
We have reservations at Hollywood & Vine on Monday. Arethe regular characters such as Doc not there during the holidays?
If your reservations are for the regular breakfast or lunch character meal, then it will still be Doc and the Disney Junior gang. The holiday characters are just for the Minnie’s Holiday Dine dinner. Two different meals, same restaurant. Hope this helps!
According to Disney’s web site, the Holiday Dine will also be available for lunch starting on Sept 4, 2017
We went to the Halloween Dine last month and found the place cramped, dirty and noisy. The main course food was fine but there was no space to get full length photos of the characters, who were all rushing off to the next table. Overall the worst of all our dining experiences in a 2 week holiday! No character or photographer at the entrance and we were told none of them would pose at the entry backdrop for us! Deserts all extremely disappointing! And our photos as a result of poor light and lack of space worked out very disappointing!
It was so bad I was tempted to cancel the Disney junior lunch we had booked later in the holiday but glad I didn’t as although the condtions were the same the children loved meeting those characters!
Ok, I admit it… the fact that YOU messed up in your Disney planning gives me perverse joy. Happy Holidays! 😉
I make mistakes all the time. Walt Disney World is such a complicated vacation destination that it’s impossible not to. On the plus side, it gives me a neverending supply of material about which to write tips! 😉
I’m glad to here the food has improved. We we went to Minnie’s Holiday Dine last year and with the exception of Dessert, the food was nearly inedible. We were expecting the worst with the food and the character interactions were great, so we weren’t to upset about it. Maybe we’ll try to go back now if the food is that much improved.
Hmmm…if you dined here last year and didn’t like it, I’m not sure I’d say the food has improved relative to what you experienced. I think the food has improved here over the course of the last several years. It’s likely about on par with what was offered last year. If you didn’t like it then, either you had poor luck and went on an off-night, or you still wouldn’t like it this year.
Did you use a flash for your photos here? We went for halloween, loved it especially the character outfits! I used my tamaron 2.8 lens and the pictures were ok, thinking of trying with a flash next time but I would need to purchase one. Could be worth it for all the character meals? (I have a nikon d7200)
Yeah, we always use a flash for character meet & greets. It’s needed for fill lighting, even outdoors in the middle of the day.
I did the Halloween dine and agree, food was so much better than our last meal here. The beef was actually better than what was served at Tusker House this trip. I never thought I would say that!
There was not a character meeting at the entry or a photopass photographer at Halloween, all the characters circulated.
Good to know about the lack of an entry character at Halloween, thanks!
We are coming to Disney for the first time. Any tips on restaurants to attend and to stay away from will be greatly appreciated:)
Also, we are going to be in Orlando on Christmas Day. I see that the park is going to be choked. Would you recommend we go elsewhere on that day, or go super early and book fast passes and restaurants before hand?
Tom, you say the passholder discount is 10%, but the website lists it as one of the limited time 20% discount. I’m thinking about getting an ADR if we can find one for next visit. Can you please confirm if you got a 10% off or 20%?