Roundup Rodeo BBQ is the newest restaurant at Walt Disney World, located inside Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. We’ve already shared the food menu, backstory, ADR info, and pretty much everything else you need to know about this all you can eat, family-style dining at DHS.
For those who are new to the Roundup Rodeo BBQ scene, we’ll quickly bring you up to speed with the essentials. The idea here is that Andy has built a restaurant consisting of Woody’s Roundup toys and other playthings. To create the restaurant, he cut and taped cardboard boxes together to create a new rodeo arena.
While some pieces are western-themed, Andy really just used whatever he had laying around–it’s a broad assortment of toys assembled to create a fun, colorful mashup-atmosphere. Now that the creation is complete, Andy and all of his toys are inviting guests to participate in the fun of a backyard barbecue.
That’s how Walt Disney World has described the restaurant, resulting in some (understandable) confusion among fans. To be abundantly clear, Toy Story Roundup Rodeo Restaurant is NOT a character dining experience. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, and pals continue doing meet & greets around Toy Story Land and NOT at this restaurant.
Speaking of things that it isn’t, this is NOT Pizza Planet from the Toy Story movies. So what IS Roundup Rodeo Restaurant? Well, basically if Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania had a baby, and it was a BBQ restaurant. That makes perfect sense…right?! Okay, probably not. Hence this look inside the restaurant, at the food, and so forth.
One thing to note up front is that this visit to Roundup Rodeo BBQ came during the media event for TRON Lightcycle Run. I was invited by Walt Disney World to take a sneak peek at the interior of the restaurant, along with the food & drinks served at Roundup Rodeo BBQ. This type of thing is always different from the actual experience of normal guests, so this should not be misconstrued as a review.
To that end, I’ll only be offering opinions about the inherent elements of Roundup Rodeo BBQ, and largely withhold specific thoughts on everything else. Stay tuned for an actual dish-by-dish Toy Story Roundup Rodeo Restaurant Review once Sarah and I dine there as paying guests next month.
Upon entering the restaurant, there’s a small waiting area along with the check-in counter.
There’s not a ton of space in here–it’s actually quite similar to the other table service restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Meaning that you can expect to be hovering around outside with a crowd of other guests anxiously awaiting notifications that their tables are ready.
In the other direction, there’s a place to have a, and I quote, “rootin’ tootin’ good time.”
Well, I suppose at least one of those words is accurate. Perhaps more depending upon what brings you joy. (While I may not be the target age demographic for this restaurant, I certainly am when it comes to maturity level!)
Entering the main dining area at Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ, we first find the Jessie and Trixie room.
These aren’t technically distinct dining rooms–it’s all one big space–but it’s broken up quite nicely with barriers and the seating arrangement.
The other side features Bo Peep and her sheep.
The way the dining room is subdivided works surprisingly well. Not only are there these large icons with attached booths, but there’s a lot going on in the middle of the room and around the periphery.
None of the walls are simply flat, and even the cardboard cutouts are surrounded by dimensional objects. This gives the dining room plenty of depth and texture, making it feel substantial.
You actually feel like you’re immersed in one of Andy’s playsets, and I’d argue that Roundup Rodeo BBQ accomplishes this better than anywhere else in Toy Story Land. It’s like the game portion of Toy Story Mania in tactile, dimensional form.
Perhaps this is partly a matter of super low expectations on my part, but the dining rooms in Roundup Rodeo BBQ are far nicer than what I had envisioned. I was basically expecting the entirety of the space to be like the wall above, but that’s most definitely not the case.
To be sure, nothing here is on par with the big three of themed dining at DHS (Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Hollywood Brown Derby), but it’s surprisingly good for what it is.
My big concern, informed by past experiences with very mediocre Toy Story “themed” dining locations, was that this would feel like a windowless warehouse with decorations affixed to the walls. And I guess if you want to reduce this to its lowest form, that is more or less what it is. But you could also diminish other DHS dining in similar ways, if you were so inclined.
What separates Roundup Rodeo BBQ from other Toy Story offerings, and this includes some of those in this land, is the way it stuffs its space with a mixture of flats and dimensional objects. Everything is brimming with detail, and no surface is wasted. It’s not the pinnacle of themed design, but it absolutely nails the Toy Story aesthetic. For what it is, this is about as good as it gets.
There will also be a quasi-show aspect to Roundup Rodeo BBQ, with a variety of prompts played as overhead announcements. The main one of these is sure to be the warning that everyone needs to freeze because “Andy’s Coming!”
This is a fun one, although it gives me flashbacks to one of the most annoying and disruptive urban legends that went viral in the early days of social media. It’s amusing that Disney has flipped the script on this one, and is making guests the subject of the warning.
There are a bunch of other audio and visual gags, including ones that are to be determined. For example, there are hobby horses at the host stand (for ??? when seating guests) and oversized pencils for when the checks arrive (a comedic moment to take the sting out of things). There will also be spontaneous guest cavalcades through the restaurant, which should exactly like character dining experience (minus the characters) supplementary entertainment.
Between this and all of the Easter Eggs in the backgrounds, Roundup Rodeo BBQ should be a fairly interesting restaurant. A lot of effort and thought was clearly put into this location; it’s not simply a quick and phoned-in way to expand Toy Story Land and cash-in on the appeal of the Pixar franchise. (Well, it wouldn’t have been “quick” regardless given the actual construction timeline, but that seemed like a possibility back when this was originally announced and was supposed to open in 2020.)
We were also advised that there are plans to introduce seasonal elements into the experience for Halloween and Christmas, but the how of that wasn’t really explained. I remember hearing the same thing way back in the day for Toy Story Mania, and that largely has not happened. Given that Toy Story Land has barely decorated for the last several holiday seasons, I’m not holding my breath.
Nevertheless, the distinct impression was given that Roundup Rodeo BBQ will evolve over time. Even though it will NOT be character dining (yet another reminder for anyone who is still confused on this point), Roundup Rodeo BBQ should entertain kids in similar ways and offer hilarity and hijinks. I’m inclined to believe this, but I suspect this will occur organically and on the initiative of the Cast Members at Roundup Rodeo BBQ. If they are given the space to get creative and have fun, I think there’s a lot of untapped potential for the show component to the Toy Story restaurant.
Above is a look at the entire food spread for Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ. One thing to note here is that you are not actually limited to the number of sides you can order (as previously indicated by Walt Disney World). That’s only true for round one–after that, you’re free to make additional or alternative selections.
Here are photos of each individual item:
Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant is an all-you-care-to-enjoy, family-style restaurant. It is priced at $45 for adults and $25 for kids, and (say the line, Bart!) it does not feature characters.
Previously, our prediction was that Roundup Rodeo BBQ would be on par with or akin to a slightly “elevated” version of Regal Eagle’s Distinctly Patriotic Smokehouse: A Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Barbecued Meats. Time will tell if that ends up being the case, but our revised expectation is that it’ll be more on par with the All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Signature Skillets at Whispering Canyon Cafe.
For reference, the Signature Skillets at Whispering Canyon Cafe each cost $38 and include about 8 items, but not dessert. (Or characters.) Dessert at Whispering Canyon Cafe is another $8-9, but it’s also arguably better.
However, the Roundup Rodeo BBQ menu is more robust and offers greater variety when it comes to sides and entrees, and I can’t imagine many guests are going to save room for dessert at either restaurant. (I’ve done the Whispering Canyon Cafe skillets more times than I can count, and the number of times I’ve ordered dessert afterwards is 0.)
Suffice to say, if we’re starting from a baseline of the Signature Skillets at Whispering Canyon Cafe and assuming that those are worth the money, a similar conclusion can likely be reached at Roundup Rodeo BBQ. The price premium is not that great for an in-park restaurant with a more expansive menu and intellectual property from a beloved Pixar film (but not the walk-around characters!).
Ultimately, the comparison to Whispering Canyon Cafe is probably an apt one all around for Roundup Rodeo BBQ. The atmosphere, as well as the sense of play should be like a Toy Storified version of that, and one that will only evolve and get better over time. That’s especially true if park management gives Cast Members the latitude to help shape this restaurant and its personality into something fun. Historically, Hollywood Studios has done exactly that, which is why it’s home to some of the best themed dining and most enjoyable character meals.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Roundup Rodeo BBQ. I was pleasantly surprised by this Toy Story restaurant, and even though it’s not what I personally wanted to see (Pizza Planet) and won’t be my first, second, third, or fourth choice for dining at DHS, that’s not an indictment of this location–it’s more about personal preference and priorities. To the contrary, Roundup Rodeo BBQ looks better than I expected, and like an actual worthy addition to the DHS dining landscape.
Again, Whispering Canyon Cafe is a good comparison in terms of its style and (culinary) substance. Perhaps it’s even more apt to call this Toy Story Mania: The Restaurant. With that comparison, there’s the obvious–both are Toy Story and use the same visual style. I’d take that a step further and say that this will be popular in precisely the same way as Toy Story Mania was when it first opened. Despite me not thinking that ride is/was in the same thematic league as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular with so many Walt Disney World guests. Exact same idea with Roundup Rodeo BBQ in comparison to the superstars of dining at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
What do you think about the addition of a table service restaurant to Toy Story Land? How does the barbecue menu look to you? Excited to dine at Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant? Thoughts on its themed design and details? Think this is going to be a pleasant surprise, or a letdown as compared to other exquisitely Imagineered restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts? 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!