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PRIORITY SEATING SPOTLIGHT
The Hollywood Brown Derby
Last Updated: May 2008
The Hollywood Brown Derby

Tucked across from the giant sorcerer’s hat and around the corner from a gate to the Animation courtyard in what is now called Disney’s Hollywood Studios, The Hollywood Brown Derby stands as a flashback to the golden age of Hollywood, where actors would walk down the street from where they were filming to get camaraderie, food, and to be seen and paparazzi was still a little known Italian word. A re-creation of the original Brown Derby in Los Angeles, the walls filled with the trademark caricatures of stars (both Hollywood and Disney), and the food and atmosphere are a welcome break from the theme park surrounding it.

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My parents, husband, and I made reservation arrangements on November 29, 2007, for the Fantasmic package dinner using the 2007 Disney Dining Plan. This gave us access to the reserved seating for the Fantasmic showing that evening, and not having to queue up and stand in line in order to get seats. Our reservation time was for 4:30, the latest that we could get for that night with the package as Fantasmic was set for 7pm in the evening. We arrived about 15 minutes early and were seated immediately. Although whether it was because we were in the off-season or the early seating time I can’t be sure. We were seated at a table in the middle of the dining room and were promptly greeted by our server. When she noted that we were on the Fantasmic package, she made sure to explain everything we could have, assured us that it would be no problem to use our dining credits for the package, and made sure to wish all of us a happy anniversary. My parents were celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary and Chris and I were celebrating an early 10th anniversary. (Editor: Congratulations from Scottwdw, too!)

Anniversary Toast compliments of The Hollywood Brown Derby

After almost a week on the dining plan, we all knew how much food was coming, so we decided to try different appetizers. We ordered one of the famous Cobb salads, the mushroom tortellini, and a green salad. They were delicious! The Cobb salad was chopped extremely fine, so you could get a little bit of every part in a bite, and the tortellini filling was extremely smooth with no chunks at all. While we were finishing appetizers, our server appeared with a Magic Moment of a champagne toast for four and Magical Moment certificates complements of the chef. It is always a good idea to mention birthdays and anniversaries to your servers.

After taking our entrée order, our server returned with our Fantasmic passes, explaining how they worked, and recipe cards for the Cobb Salad and the Grapefruit cake The Brown Derby is known for. What a wonderful way to make sure that we can have a little of the Disney Magic at home. For entrees; the others had Grilled Filet Mignon, while I had the Roasted Hatfield Pork Rib Chop. The filets were very tender, and the butter really accentuated the flavor of the beef; however, the watercress was a little iffy, and the garlic potatoes were small potatoes cut in half and seasoned, and not very well cooked- between the three pieces, everyone had some that were eatable, some were overdone, and some were crunchy. The pork chop was extremely tender and juicy, and the white cheddar papparedelle set off the chop with the apple jus perfectly.

Between entrée and dessert we had time to wander around the restaurant taking in the Imagineering and the attention to detail that we love about Walt Disney World. The famous caricatures and Hollywood details flow around the restaurant, with movie stills and publicity head shots of actors flowing around the public areas and even into the restrooms. We were able to find a variety of Imagineers and Disney big-wigs on the wall leading to the kitchen, and enjoyed the art work as well as the lighting and old Hollywood glamour. Even if you don’t eat, ask the hostess if you can come in and look around, because it is just wonderful.

Flourless Chocolate cake dessert from The Hollywood Brown Derby

For dessert, I had the Year of Dreams dessert of Flourless Chocolate cake with berries, Chris and my dad had the Grapefruit Cake, and my mom had the pumpkin cheesecake. I think I got the best of that deal. The cake came out with a dusting of cocoa with the Castle in clouds saying, “Where dreams come true” and a strip of dark chocolate decorated with colors and a round of white chocolate with Aurora and Prince Phillip dancing which was a wonderful touch because Sleeping Beauty was the last fairy-tale feature Walt Disney oversaw (Chris said that they got the princesses confused, because if we were in Disney World, it’s Cinderella Castle and it should have been Cinderella and her Prince). The cake was wonderful, but extremely dense. I am glad we weren’t riding any attractions later. The berries were a wonderful counterpart to the dense chocolate, but I didn’t care for the crème fresh. Mom enjoyed the pumpkin cake, while Dad and Chris both raved over the Grapefruit cake. It was extremely light, and just a hint of the grapefruit really coming through although we didn’t try to eat the dried grapefruit garnish.

All in all, we enjoyed The Hollywood Brown Derby, and would immediately recommend it for dessert to anyone. The hit-or-miss with the potatoes was a little disturbing as the Disney Dining personnel compare it to California Grill and Artist Point, but I’m more than willing to chalk that up to a bad day; I’d certainly try it again. The décor and immediate enclosure from the park make you think of Old Style Hollywood, and it can only be hoped that with the name change to Hollywood Studios, more of the park will rise to that glamour and detail. It is a wonderful oasis inside the park, completely closing you off unlike Mama Melrose, and for those looking for something other than theme park fare, The Hollywood Brown Derby is an excellent but expensive choice.

To find out when you can plan your Advance Reservation for The Hollywood Brown Derby, go to the PS Report.

Editor's Note: I would like to thank Christie Gibrich (bk_junkie on the DisneyEcho) for volunteering to do this PS Spotlight. She previously did a review of Japan's Tappan Edo restaurant.


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Copyright© 2008 Scott L. Thomas All Rights Reserved.