PizzeRizzo (“Pizza Rizzo”) is a Muppets-themed restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World serving…pizza. This post offers food photos and a look inside this brand new restaurant in Muppet Courtyard that we were able to experience on its opening day.
For starters, if you’ve never heard of PizzeRizzo, you might recognize this as the former Pizza Planet, a loosely themed Toy Story restaurant in the same location that was removed because Toy Story Land is being constructed elsewhere at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As a result, Pizza Planet went down for a long refurbishment, and rumors swirled that the restaurant would finally receive a redo to match a concept originally pitched as part of the Muppet Studios mini-land that was proposed in the early 1990s.
That mini-land was to include MuppetVision 3D, a Great Muppet Movie Ride, plus two restaurants: “The Great Gonzo’s Pandemonium Pizza Parlor” and “Swedish Chef’s Cooking School.” Both concepts seemed really cool, and Muppet fans (us included) were hopeful to finally–potentially–have a taste of one of those restaurants. When PizzeRizzo was formally announced a few months ago, it was really exciting.
Let’s take a look inside…
PizzeRizzo is sure to beckon foodies from every corner of Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a mouth-watering tagline: “it’s rat pizza.” (Look closely at the photo above.)
PizzeRizzo is open for lunch and dinner, offering multi-level indoor seating. In addition to four varieties of pizza, there are also salads and meatball subs on the menu (see above) at PizzeRizzo.
Frankly, the overhaul of this restaurant was a long time coming. PizzeRizzo’s predecessor was supposed to be themed like a ‘dive pizza joint’ from the popular Pixar film, but it only got the “dive” part right. With its loud arcade downstairs and mostly bare walls, it was a very utilitarian place.
Little was done on the inside to execute the Toy Story theme, and it was mostly just a sad restaurant by Walt Disney World thematic standards.
PizzeRizzo changes some of that. In large part, it’s still a dive pizza joint stuck in circa 1988 (you probably know the kind of place).
While it’s still not the paramount of Disney theming, it is unquestionably better. To be fair, though, next to no effort would need to have been expended to make this better than Pizza Planet.
There are some clever puns, visual sight gags, and callbacks to Henson callbacks (and the Streets of America), but it’s still way too short on the details.
It doesn’t fully deliver on the New York pizza place set in Los Angeles–but run by Muppets–theme. It also does not feel like a decidedly Muppets establishment, except in a couple of places.
It feels like a major missed opportunity. Making it a counterpart to MuppetVision 3D would’ve been great, having it be a natural extension of the pre-show of that attraction. I guess you could say it is like that, but with 1/100th the effort.
I hesitate to blame this on a lack of budget (but that likely does play a role). More junk ‘n’ stuff for visual gags obviously would’ve cost money, and would be nice, but actual props are not necessary.
A lot could’ve been done by a clever writer and graphic designer. (The display case outside the ballroom is a good example.)
Why it received a less lavish theming than what you’d find at your local Buca di Beppo is perplexing. Walt Disney World is still charging ~$100/day to visit this park, despite it having ~4 attractions open and 3.71 hours of entertainment.
Oh, I forgot–they’re spending it all on that one pile of dirt they’ve moved thus far for Star Wars Land. Joking aside, this would be the perfect setting for Imagineering’s current fixation on cramming places with tons of eclectic, self-referential visuals.
Without much to see inside, let’s move on to the food. PizzeRizzo serves the type of “cuisine” (<- air quotes) that is stereotypically associated with theme parks.
Cheap and greasy mass-produced pizzas are the main draw here, with meatball subs and salads also available.
We were hopeful that Walt Disney World would opt for flatbreads or the individually crafted pizzas that were added at Pizzafari when that menu was overhauled, but that did not occur. It’s the same thing Pizza Planet had, which is to say frozen pizza with arguably 49% of the ingredients being chemicals.
On the plus side, that’s 51% actual food! We can’t say we’re too surprised by the menu decision, as the frozen pizzas served here have always been inexplicably popular.
We “visited with” Tom of WDWNT.com and Josh of easyWDW.com. By visited with, I mean they spotted us as we were strolling through the area and Sarah made the mistake of making eye contact.
They were camping in Muppet Courtyard on day 38 of their nonstop “PizzeRizzo Watch.” If anyone tells you the fountain in Muppet Courtyard was turned off because of construction, don’t believe them. It’s actually because this dynamic duo kept trying to bathe in it.
What they chose isn’t the best stuff on earth, but we were not disappointed by our pizzas. The sausage on my meat lover’s pizza stood out as being of reasonably high quality.
In other words, these were better than we remembered. They still aren’t on par with the flatbreads that have been introduced at many Walt Disney World, but they weren’t terrible, either.
It’s all about expectations. If you go in expecting a pizza like you might drunkenly cook following a 2 a.m. freezer raid, you’ll probably find PizzeRizzo enjoyable.
If you expect something that you might find at an actual hole in the wall New York pizzeria, you will be incredibly disappointed.
Expect a pizza that will taste approximately “$10 good,” (adjusted for Walt Disney World inflation) and you shouldn’t be disappointed. It doesn’t serve much of a point to fixate on the pizza quality in this review. It is what is is.
If you like this type of pizza, we can’t really fault you. PizzeRizzo certainly could have “guilty pleasure” status, particular if you don’t normally eat this type of food. We don’t, and we found it to be a fun place to have a meal. So, if greasy fast food pizza is what you go in expecting, PizzeRizzo will certainly deliver.
Tom and Josh had the salad and the meatball sub. There’s a really similar salad to this at DCA, and I actually enjoy it as a lighter–but still loaded with meat, as any respectable salad should be–option. I forgot to ask what Tom thought of the sub, but it looks almost identical to the mediocre one they used to serve here.
I also forgot to ask what he thought of the cannoli.
The Tiramisu was shockingly good, and I’d definitely order it again.
In terms of value, PizzeRizzo is solid if you’re paying out of pocket. You receive a personal pizza of the plain cheese, pepperoni, meat, or a veggie variety, and a Caesar side salad for around $10. As mentioned above, on the Dining Plan you’re better off eating at somewhere more expensive to maximize “value,” but even then it may not be a bad idea to pay out of pocket and split a pizza here (saving those credits for something else).
Overall, despite our fondness for all things Muppets, we won’t be adding PizzeRizzo to our regular dining rotation. It’s an improvement on Pizza Planet and easily the second best New York in Los Angeles-themed restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but neither of those things are saying much. Parents with children who are picky eaters will likely enjoy PizzeRizzo, particularly given the value for money coupled with the dearth of satisfying counter service alternatives in the park, too. None of this should be construed as a ringing endorsement. It’s really too bad the opportunity for a worthwhile, long overdo Muppets eatery was squandered.
What do you think about PizzeRizzo? Are you excited for the theme change, or will you miss Pizza Planet? Are you a fan of this type of pizza, or would you have preferred PizzeRizzo serve flatbreads? If you like it, which pizza (or non-pizza) is your favorite? If you don’t like it, why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.