My latest Disney restaurant review is about eating gluten free at Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This was one of the last restaurants we visited on our trip that just past. It was after the rest of the extended family had gone home so it was only the four of us and we only needed gluten free food. The restaurant is a buffet style character meal and on the Disney dining plan.
Disney’s Hollywood and Vine doesn’t have a typical Disney backstory. The setting is a 1940’s inspired cafeteria style restaurant with an art deco theme but it has no story to go with it. The food is served buffet style and is all you can eat. We attended Minnie’s Summertime Dine. At this event, Minnie Mouse was hosting a beach party for everyone so all of the characters were dressed in beach attire. As we walked in we were immediately brought over to a photo area where we were able to take pictures with Donald Duck. Since we had the Memory Maker photo package, this was a great opportunity. Donald was one of the better characters we had experienced so far with lots of goofing around and a great back drop of surf boards and bright colors.
The Gluten Free Menu
As we entered the seating area we were handed an allergen menu printed on regular copy paper. This seems to be typical of the buffet style restaurants. It probably allows them to keep it updated with all of the food choices on the buffet and have it accurately reflect the correct information about allergen friendly options. We received a similar looking menu at The Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While it didn’t look that pretty, we were happy to have some guidance when making our food selections.
I have to be honest, eating gluten free at Hollywood and Vine wasn’t one of my top ten Disney dining experiences. Our waiter was polite but distant, not the typical “Disney” friendly and helpful. After handing us the allergen menu he basically expected us to figure it all out. Since we had never been to the restaurant before, I was a little lost.
After taking our drink order I asked him about the possibility of getting some gluten free bread. He said he could do that and went to get some. After that we went to the buffet to see what we could have.
The allergen menu was really helpful in figuring out what we could eat off of the buffet. I did get the feeling as if we were at a place like the Sizzler or the Golden Corral. The menu sounded very interesting. They had peel and eat shrimp and a carving station with turkey and roasted sirloin, but everything looked a bit picked over and plain. Also be aware, the buffet looks like a lot of food when you first walk in but it is actually half of what you see because there are two sets of stations that mirror each other. I assume this is so traffic flows better.
If you have little ones I have to say much of the children’s options are not gluten free (except the baked chicken and some sides). It’s possible that they may be able to bring something out for you from the back but our waiter really wasn’t interesting in helping us.
Remember that gluten free bread I asked for? Well, it didn’t come out until we were almost finished with dessert (even after asking for it twice). I wouldn’t have minded if there was an explanation such as, “we had to run over to such and such a place to get it” or “the cook made it from scratch.” Part of the problem was that he just plopped it on the table as if this was all perfectly normal. I found this pretty annoying. Most of the time I couldn’t even find our server to ask if they could prepare anything else separately. After the bread request, we didn’t even try.
I ended up settling with a big salad, meat from the carving station, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and BBQ pork. It was definitely enough food but not that exciting.
There was only one gluten free option for dessert, strawberry pearl cheesecake. This looked really interesting. However, by the time we got up to get dessert there was one little cheesecake left. We had to wait 10 minutes for them to bring out a new platter. At this point, I just wanted to get out of there because it was a bit disappointing. Unfortunately for me, everyone wanted dessert, so we waited.
They had soft serve ice cream which wasn’t listed on the allergen menu at all. So, I asked another server if it was gluten free (not our server) and he said it was fine. I let the kids have some of that without the toppings, which again looked a bit picked over. Besides not knowing which items were gluten free, I was worried about cross contamination. I also noticed that on the allergen list, there was nothing without dairy, egg or soy. It seems to me that they could have easily created at least one or two choices without each of these allergens.
When the cheesecakes finally came out they were ok. I thought I would like the strawberry pearls on top, after our experience at the Skipper Canteen, but these were not as good. It might have been the smaller size or the flavor. I really don’t know since I’d never had them before this trip.
Overall, I would say that we will not be returning to eat gluten free at Hollywood and Vine any time soon. It’s hard to say if we just had a bad server or if we were there on a busy night. Maybe it’s always like this? I know a lot of families love this place but I just didn’t feel like it lived up to Disney standards. One positive thing is that the characters were great. They all took time to interact with us. There was no hi and bye type interaction. They stayed and had a little fun with us before moving to the next table. If I had a family of small children who really wanted to see the characters then it might be worth it but I wouldn’t go just for the food.