Disney · Omnibus · Trivia

WDW for the Single Guy: an experiment, Part 14 (Disney’s Hollywood Studios, pt II)

Disney Hollywood Studios map

[DISCLAIMER: The following was originally written by Jerry Skids back in 2009. He is a big Disney fan. He has his own WDW-themed podcast, which you can find here, or here. This is 100% Jerry’s words, completely unedited, out of respect to Jerry. If you are confused by any of the acronyms, check out the previous posts. My comments are listed in [ ] – anything in ( ) are all Jerry’s words. I have not fact-checked any of this information. Obviously some things have definitely changed since 2009, and should be used for comparative purposes only, as many attractions have come and gone since the time this was written. However, that does not invalidate his suggestions one iota. This is still useful, and I think this is so amazing, that I want to share his knowledge and wisdom. Thank you Jerry! Posted with his permission. – Editor]

WDW For The Single Guy: an experiment

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – part 2

[Note: in case you missed the last part, Jerry, like many WDW fans, still call DHS by it’s old name, MGM.]

Animation Courtyard

Branching off to the right of the giant hat, you will find yourself in front of the actually working Animation Studio where greats like Tarzan, Brother Bear, Lilo + Stitch, and Mulan [Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia] were drawn. This small courtyard is the home to many nostalgic things to me (like my post for a whole month of Star Wars weekends), but I won’t get into that. It is set up like the original studio in Burbank. When looking at a photo of it from the front, it will look like the courtyard here in WDW.

The Magic of Disney Animation (B- now [see disclaimer], used to be A+)

There’s a huge history here!! You see, Walt Disney Studios used to actually make hand-drawn animated features and shorts. Until Pixar came along. Now for some reason, after partnering with Pixar, Disney feels they should only do computer animated artwork. [Sorry Jerry, but even Studio Ghibli stopped doing all hand-drawn animation years ago. It’s not just for aesthetic reasons, but computer-drawn animation save a whole bunch of time and money – two things every other animation studio not named Disney do not have.] Thus, in 2004, the Animation Studio was shut down completely and all the animators were fired. [Pro Tip: every animator, and every voice actor will tell you this piece of advice if you ever want to be in the animation business for a living – DON’T!] This attraction used to be like this: There was a hilarious film starring Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite, where Robin Williams draws a character, and it pops out of the screen and does a bunch of crazy things. The whole thing explained the process of creating characters, situations, and animation. Then your tour guide would pick you up and take you on a tour of the studio. You would watch the ACTUAL animators hard at work below you and sometimes in front of you. I watched them doing Lilo and Stich before it was ever announced publicly. THAT was cool. Then they brought you into a room where an animator would draw a character from scratch and answer questions about anything for about 10 minutes – half from kids, half from adults. Sounds awesome, right?? Well, without the working studio, here’s the new attraction. Get ready to cry. You go into that same small theatre where a Cast Member host (not an actual animator) interacts with Mushu from Mulan (voiced by Eddie Murphy) – which is probably an homage to Mulan being the last feature by Disney that was completely hand drawn. Between the host’s speech, Mushu’s constant interruptions, and a brief taped segment with the ex-animators 😦 , it’s very hard to actually learn anything about animation. Then they show you a plug for whatever the next film is going to be and sometimes another as well, depending on of they are ready to release the information. Then you go into another room and you see a small collection of memorabilia, e.g.: Donald’s first cel and the original Ursula, etc.. You now have a choice to go to the next room, or enter the “side quest” where a CM teaches you how to draw a character of his/her choice. They will tell you some obscure stuff about the character as they teach you. You get to use a real animation desk (since they are not being used at the time) and you can keep your drawing, which is pretty cool. Every once in a while, a real animator stops by to teach. The most popular characters are Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, Mickey, and Goofy. Finally, you go to the next room which has a few more pieces of memorabilia and Mickey Mouse (who was moved in 2008 from the old Mickey Ave – now called Pixar Place). You can get Mickey’s autograph (Sorcerer Mickey as you will see him in Fantasmic later) or go and check out the newest characters who are always stationed here as well. Last time I went it was Meet The Robinsons characters. Before that, it was The Incredibles and Chicken Little (not at the same time). By the time we got there next time, it will be the Frog Prince characters or Up characters. Who knows. [In 2016, Disney movies are released so frequently, the might change characters on a weekly basis 🙂 ]. Anyway, in this same room, you can play some games such as “What Disney Character Are You?” or “Record your voice into the character” or a few other audio/video computerized games. They are actually pretty fun. As a whole, I give the experience a “B-” only because Mushu is funny; the art class is cool; and the games are entertaining. Otherwise, I miss the real Animation Studios. By the way, the fact that Mickey was moved into the place that used to create films for him is quite ironic and quite upsetting. (The whole thing is about 30 minutes – more if the animator takes more time).
When To Go: Sometimes it doesn’t open until 10 – 11 AM, but I say you should go between 12 PM and 2 PM – some save this experience for half a day. It’s up to you.

Movie Promo Soundstage (F on regular days, A+ on Star Wars Weekends)

[Sorry. This section had to be heavily edited for obvious reasons. I know I promised zero edits, but the Star Wars universe has changed drastically between 2009 and 2015.] This was where they were promoting The Chronicles of Narnia films. It’s a short film and a stupid walkthrough exhibit of props, costumes, and other crap. During Star Wars Weekends, it’s home of the Behind The Force Films (where I used to work). Before Episode II, they showed a behind-the-scenes look a how they filmed it with footage no one else had ever seen before. Spoilers were many. [I do not expect SWW to have any spoilers for Rogue One, Episode VIII, or any future Star Wars movies.] There is a compilation of the Behind the Force series, which is still fucking cool if you like Star Wars. It’s 20 minutes. If you love Narnia, then see that [too late I imagine], but I always skip[ped] it.

Playhouse Disney – Live On Stage (D for adults; A+ for kids; B+ for PHD fans) {Playhouse Disney}

So this live show for kids is all right I guess. It used to be a “Bear In the Big Blue House” show, but one day that TV show became really unpopular and they got a whole bunch of different shows involved. First it was Bear, Rolie Polie Olie, and Book of Pooh, then it was Jojo’s Circus, Little Einsteins, and Book of Pooh, and now it’s Little Einsteins, Book of Pooh, and Handy Mandy (starring Wilmer Valderrama) as well as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy from Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse. They aren’t actually characters, but strangely elaborate puppets. I normally see all the attractions, but I usually skip this now. Why? They got rid of JoJo for one. BOO! But also, there are no seats. That’s right, you either stand or sit on the fucking floor?! Only JoJo could make me do that. MAYBE Higglytown, but they don’t even respect them enough to have ever given them a slot. Also, they promote a huge amount of audience participation. That means hundreds of screaming kids jumping, dancing, and singing along. No thank you. If I had a kid, I’d go, but this is just too much for me otherwise. The puppetry is very good, so if you like that type of stuff, check it out. Otherwise, fucking run! Fun little trivia bit: This place used to house the Catwalk Bar. It was where adults could slip away and climb upstairs to have a quick drink. It was set up like a hidden speakeasy above a place called The Soundstage Restaurant, where kids could dine supervised. The Catwalk closed, and so MGM is a little more “dry” than it should be. (20 minutes)
When To Go: The 1st show is the least busy, so if you MUST go, go after you ride TOT and RNRC. Otherwise show up 30 minutes early and hope for the best.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid (A-) (B- if you’re a stickler for people being on tune) {VotLM} {FP}

So this 17 minute live stage show is very very good. BRING YOUR GIRL – VERY ROMANTIC! They use live actors and black-lit puppets against a pitch black background to tell the story of The Little Mermaid in about 1/5 of its running time!! You have to show up early to actually get in, even though shows are every 17 minutes. You can wait up to 70 minutes for a show! The show is cute, but not silly or saccharine. Very romantic, and quite good. The special effects are fantastic, and the puppeteers are AWESOME! There are laser lights, blacklight, actual rain, and a huge Ursula! Sit in the front row and you’ll get wet whenever Ariel is under the sea. Drawback: They never get an Ariel who has a good voice. Since Ariel is supposed to have the most beautiful voice in the world, it’s a bit unbelievable. Still, it’s a wonderful story and the pre-show holding area is filled with stuff from the original animated film. Use my theatre advice!
When To Go: Go late. Right before Fantasmic or on an EMH night if you go. Otherwise, this is the only show I recommend FastPass for. That’s very unlike me.

Shopping

Animation Gallery – an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and other artwork directly outside of the old animation studios. They have some actual CDs for sale too. The price is Similar to Art of Disney. They also have Little Mermaid clothes and other Ariel related merch since VotLM is directly next door. As of 2008, they had a FEW Playhouse Disney related things like JoJo, Goliath, and Skeebo plush.

Live Entertainment

Andy Mation (C) – I don’t know if this guy is still here, but he used to make balloon animals, tell jokes, and just have an all around good time. He is a nice guy, but his act is hack and boring. I knew him back in 2001. He dresses in a smock made out of scenes of different Mickey shorts.

Dining and Snacks

None. Just a small ice cream stand on the back entrance to Brown Derby.

Pixar Place + Commissary Lane

Pixar Place

This used to be called Mickey Avenue until 2009, when they took out Mickey and JoJo characters and decided to turn this entire section into a Pixar fun fest. Cheesy. Mickey Avenue is the exact name of one of the famous “streets” around the huge Burbank movie set. There’s not too much to say about it, but that’s the way it is. For argument’s sake, we’ll say Pixar Place ends directly before the Backlot.

Walt Disney’s One Man’s Dream (B+ for most people, A+++ for Disnoids or fans of history, C- if you have no heart)

Built at the same time as the Sorcerer’s Hat, this tribute to Walt Disney is unbelievably well done. It was created for the 100 Years of Magic Celebration in 2001 (after the Millennium Celebration was coming to an end), which was Walt’s  100th birthday. This tribute is great because it’s both a “museum” of Disney memorabilia and recordings, as well as a 10 minute film documenting his life and business. Some things you can see: an exact replica of Walt’s original CA office; all the different innovations Walt came up with (including the multi-plane camera, audio animatronics, the concept of a theme park the whole family can enjoy, etc.); early models and plans for WDW and other parks around the world; and old original posters for Walt’s Silly Symphonies. These extraordinary artifacts are definitely worth a look. They take you back to a time when the creation and vision that [founded] WDW was personified by one struggling entrepreneur, and the film provides a nice glimpse of Disney’s successes and failures. Eisner used to narrate this, but after he was “fired”, they got Julie Andrews (long-time Disney fanatic) to do it – Eisner was still serving his last quarter. He sucks. But bad news… this tribute may be gone soon. They started giving private tours to Disneyana fans and [they are] trying to keep it alive — but it looks like Pixar Place’s new attitude will take this over. Make way for something Wall-E related. That’s my guess.
When To Go: 1 PM – 3:30 PM is best since it’s never too crowded.

Toy Story Mania (A++) {FP}

This used to house the Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Play It attraction, which was really cool. More about that in my Homage to Extinct Attractions. Toy Story Mania! (once called Midway Mania) is a 3D ride through a shooting gallery. This ushers in a new technology inspired by Island of Adventure’s Spider-Man ride. This is what we call a “virtual dark ride.” Imagine dark rides like Pirates, Peter Pan, and Haunted Mansion with no audio animatronics, no sets, just an empty corridor covered with reflected material. When you put your glasses on, the corridor appears to be full of all these sets, color, action, and activity thanks to projected CGIs. Much like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (without the ability to move your car), your ride vehicle moves through different booths, where you use a slingshot to play these midway games (ring toss, ball throwing, egg tossing, etc.) Each booth is manned by a Toy Story character who sits by you and cheers you on. You not only see and hear all the 3D imagery, but you smell pies, get sprayed by water, and experience winds and odd motions. You compete against your “riding mate” and because there’s a training competition first, it adjusts your level of difficulty. Plus a six-foot Mr Potato Head interacts with you in the pre-show, much like Crush in Turtle Talk, and the actors in Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. I heard that this is absolutely amazing, and you can go on it over and over and the games constantly change. This ride is 7 – 8 minutes long, and even though it sounds “kiddy”, it is supposedly awesome for everyone. I trust the opinions of my sources, so I’ll agree. [Hey, that’s my line!]
When To Go: Well…you see, this is a tough decision, since I haven’t tested it yet, but it seems that since it is a new ride as of 2009, many people will flock here first. Two suggestions: 1) dedicate a ½ morning to the studios and come back running to this before RNRC + TOT (not the best solution); 2) Go right after RNRC’s second time. If the line is under 10 minutes, good. If it’s busy as hell, grab a FastPass. Ride GMR then come back here. That’s all I can suggest right now. [I’ve requested an update from Jerry. If he replies, I’ll edit accordingly.]

Character Greetings (used to be A, but now it’s F—–)

Why is it F—–? Because they took away all the character greetings. Mickey used to be here, and now he’s in the Animation Studios.  Jojo and Goliath were here, but Skeebo ruined everything when he lost his hat and Jojo got in trouble for pointing and laughing at him on property. Once Pooh and Tigger were here too. And the Little Einsteins. No more greetings.

Commissary Lane

This is not really a designated area. It’s in-between Pixar Place, Echo Lake, and the Backlot. But there are Pixar characters here. So I will throw it in the same category. No attractions.

Shopping

Carts – There were carts on Pixar Place that sold JoJo merchandise and Little Einstein merch, as well as autograph books and even at one point, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire merchandise. Now it is nothing, I believe. Hopefully there is something left.

Live Entertainment

All I know is that Pixar Place is filled with advertisements for Disney films. Commissary Lane is filled with posters and music from ABC and Disney television shows from [shows airing in 2009 redacted, so insert contemporary shows here]. There are also meet and greet with Mike + Sully from Monsters Inc. across from the ABC Commissary.

Dining and Snacks

ABC Commissary (Food B+; Service B+; Price: Not too bad) (counter service cafeteria-style back-lot food) – With commercials for ABC programming playing around the clock, this place is set up like the cafeteria at a television station. This is one of the only places to get something different. (Counter service-wise.) They have Cuban sandwiches, chicken curry , and Asian salads as well as cheeseburgers with apple slices, ham and cheese wraps, chocolate mousse and strawberry parfait. You know what else? Wine and beer! Also, they used to have awesome french toast for breakfast, but now it’s just egg-and-cheese bagels, oatmeal, and fresh fruit. It’s indoors, it’s air-conditioned and it’s never really bustling since it’s out of the way. This is a decent place to get a quick lunch.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre Restaurant (Food: D; Service: A-; Price: astronomical;entertainment: A-) – I really wanted to say something good about this place… I really did. But if they don’t give me much to work with, what am I supposed to do? Let’s go with the good first, shall we? You are seated in “cars” with tables while you watch a 45 minute reel showing cartoons and clips of vintage horror/sci-fi films like The Blob and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, as well as previews for others…the famous “see a sultry beauty in the clutches of a half-crazed monster” line is hysterical. Right out of the 1950’s, the decor is great – you really feel like you’re outside at a drive-in in a classic car watching camp with waitresses on roller skates! Okay, now a reality check. The food here (American table service) is maybe a smidge better, if not on par with the counter-service meals for triple the price! You can get burgers, shakes, and sandwiches for lunch. If you go for dinner, you can also get pasta, ribs, steak and fish. (Yeah, that sounds like something you should order here…) The food is so sub-par with the price, I had to lower the food grade. If this was counter-service, I’d give it maybe a ‘C‘ at most, but it’s not and you’re paying tax and gratuity. Here’s my recommendation: if you really want to check it out, make a late afternoon ADR and only order dessert, or only order a $5 shake. Just think of the Sci-Fi Restaurant as an attraction (because that’s all it is), instead of a good dining opportunity (which it is not!) But do me a favor and please do not get a full meal – you’ll hate yourself. I hate to say it, but this is a great restaurant to take a girl. As long as she doesn’t strand you there because of the bad food… oh sorry….

Echo Lake

Gertie

This area is focused more on the 1950’s Hollywood, with a very turquoise-oriented design and references to many old films along the way. The office of Valiant and Valiant is here as well, above Hollywood and Vine, bridging Hollywood Blvd to Echo Lake. Dinosaur Gertie (which is an homage to the first animated short) towers over the lake, looking all stoned and hungry as you pass by the ABC Soundstage and other theatres. For argument’s sake, I will stop Echo Lake once you turn the corner and before you reach the “backlot.”

The American Idol Experience (A- if you’re a singer, C if you’re just watching)

Yeah, somehow Disney got the rights to a Fox show… and it’s playing at the ABC Soundstage. Let me tell you the history of the Soundstage. First, it hosted a show where they would put the audience into old television shows like “Gilligan’s Island” and such, then it was Disney’s “Doug” Live until March, 2001, where it closed for 8 years. The only thing the Soundstage was used for was special events (like Q & As for Star Wars Weekends with celebrities such as Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, etc.). Finally, it re-opened as, which I’ll abbreviate, AIX, You show up at a scheduled time between 9 AM and 12 PM, you sing for two judges , and they select three people to go through. Then at 12:30 PM, they have the show where you can watch the 3 people compete with other. The winner each day gets a Dream Pass to go to the front of the line at the next American Idol auditions. People over 29 [yrs old] win nothing. I think it’s rigged. Whatever. This is worth going to for the re-creation of the original set, and the funny judges (only three, not four.)If you’re a singer, you’ll love it. If not, it’s still cool, I guess, but the best part (the auditions) are cut out and you can’t point and laugh at Skeebo doing a techno rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” because it’s just the Top 3. [I still say it’s okay to point and laugh at Skeebo anytime for any reason.] If they added video clips from the worst auditions, it would be better, but they do pick one person to do the “journey” where they talk about how hard their whiny lives are. If they are picked, it doesn’t mean they will win. Oh, and because of this, the singers are being recorded at all times while practicing and during preliminary rounds before the show.
When To Go: I don’t know yet. This will not be in my touring plans as of now. I have to actually go and see what’s best for myself. [Moot point as the show was cancelled in 2016.]

Sounds Dangerous (D) (hardcore Drew Carey fans can bump it up a grade or two)

This replaced the Monster Sound Stage starring Martin Short, Chevy Chase and friends in the mid-to-late 90’s. This is a 12 minute show in complete darkness. That’s right, you heard me. Drew Carey is this bumbling detective, and he goes through a bunch of twists and turns… The entire show, you’re wearing headphones, and it’s pitch black and you have to rely on sound effects to know what’s going on. This is what most CMs and guests pan as the worst attraction in WDW, combined with Stich. The only reason I give it a ‘D‘ instead of an ‘F‘ is because Drew Carey is actually funny in this mess. The thing is, if your headphones don’t work, you are fucked! Also, most young guests have no idea who the fuck Drew Carey is, so they don’t care. {Stop the music…time for a counterpoint. Young guest visiting in the early 90’s would have no clue who Martin Short and Chevy Chase were. At least Drew had a self-titled sit-com on ABC in the mid 90’s, plus the U.S. remake of “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” Now that he is the new host of “The Price is Right,” he is more popular than ever. Every other criticism of the attraction is fair game, but Drew’s lack of popularity among the youngest demographics is not one of them. /rant} The theatre is run down and kinda smells weird. I have at least one great story here. I had a quickie during this attraction. That’s right. Since it’s completely pitch black for the majority of the time, you can see nothing, so you can pull your shit out and just slam your girl here… but BEWARE because there is one moment where the lights come on for a second or two and you’ll be caught. Watch it first to find out when that is, and time it right. This attraction is sucks, but as I said, Drew is not terrible in it. There’s a stupid pre-show on a TV screen with trivia and such. Oh, and when you leave, you can enter a sound booth that tricks you with different kinds of sounds, or record your voice onto Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant, Snow White, or the Snow Queen. The post show is a million times better than the show.
When To Go: Right before or during the parade – make sure that the Indiana Jones show didn’t just let out, because this is right across the street and people filter here.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (A) {FP} (Indy)

Yes, you saw this on “Full House.” And you saw it on “Step By Step.” This has been here since the opening of MGM Studios. This show is wonderfully done. You have to wait on line about 30 minutes earlier on standby. I suggest FastPass. Before the show, they select people from the audience to act as extras and it’s really funny. They go through three scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The first scene in the cave with the boulder, the scene in Cairo where all hell breaks loose, and the scene with the Nazi planes. They showcase professional stuntmen / stuntwomen who demonstrate all the dangerous stunts and more. It’s not just a stunt show, it’s a movie set. There’s a director, stunt people, explosion experts, and more who talk to you about what it’s like to film these scenes and such. My girlfriend has been chosen to be an extra every single time. Here’s the key: the second they call for volunteers, just jump up and down with your hand in the air and such. Be noticed. Wear bright colors. Display unmitigated enthusiasm! Housed in a theatre that holds 2,000 people, it’s your decision where you want to sit. The most action in the cave scene is on the left; in the Nazi plane scene, [it’s] on the right… so do what you will. I like to sit up front, but remember, it will take a long time to leave. Good news: They let you bring food in!! And beer! That alone sells me. But the show is a lot of fun, and they torture, point, and laugh at some of the extras, which is hilarious. This is interesting: from the day the rough idea for it’s 2,000-seat arena was first sketched on a napkin, ’til the day the 1st guest took a seat in the theatre was just a mere 11 months! The performance including the breaks in between “filming” lasts about 30 minutes. One note of warning: if the cheerleaders are in MGM the day you visit, they’ll be performing in the theatre, which means Indy is closed for the day. Also, while on line, pull the rope that says “Don’t Pull” for a really funny surprise. The great thing about this show is that they have only updated it once. They changed the swastikas on the planes to iron crosses as an “less offensive” “politically correct” thing, but otherwise it remains unchanged and is still awesome. [Another counterpoint: using the Iron Cross to represent the Third Reich is an acceptable alternative. It’s not just Disney.]
When To Go: The 4 PM show is a bit busy, but use a FastPass, because this is the best show of the day. Also, it’s very close to parade time. Otherwise, the 2 PM show is decent too.

Shopping

Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost – Get your fedora, trench coat, whip, T-shirt, action figure, character plushies based on your favorite archaeologist. You can get Mickey and/or Pooh as Indy!
Sounds Dangerous Store – regular Disney merch – nothing special.

Live Entertainment

Lightning McQueen + Mater – Show up here for photo ops – they are kinda pointless, but they’re there.

Dining + Snacks

Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner (Food: B; Service: B; Price: a bit expensive for snacks) (Pretzels and stuff) – Right under Dinosaur Gertie, “Min + Bill” serves shakes, soft drinks, beer, chips, cookies, and a whole variety of pretzels. They have a spicy cheese-stuffed pretzel and an apple cinnamon pretzel – both are good. Just a regular snack space otherwise. Pretty okay, but nothing earth shattering.

That Random Slushee Snack Place (Drinks/Food: B-; Service:B; Price: same) (slushee-type drinks). – Yeah, that’s what you get here. You can get a cup of that’s half one flavor + half another. It’s decent.

Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream (Food: B-; Service: B; Price: same) (ice cream) – Same old, same old.

Dip Site (Food: A-; Service: A; Price: not bad) (a small food cart – has changed) – When I was last here, this was the ONLY place on property to get a philly cheese steak. And it was done quickly and correctly. Located outside the Indy Stunt Show, this cart served up regular snacks with $4 philly cheese steak sandwiches. They changed it to Spanish food, but hadn’t heard anything since. We used to bring sandwiches into Indy.

Hollywood + Vine (Food: C+; Service: A; Price: cheap; Entertainment: characters) (American buffet) – This is home of the “Play ‘n’ Dine at Hollywood + Vine” Playhouse Disney character meal (Breakfast + Lunch only). You can eat with June and friends from “Little Einstein” and JoJo and Goliath from “JoJo’s Circus”. Unfortunately, you will not find Skeebo here, since he went on a rampage, terrorizing the Little Einstein characters and all the Pixar characters. They banned him from the park, and he vowed revenge. But everyone just thinks he’s pathetic. The place is set up like a large Art-Deco-style cafeteria with tile floors and chrome. Walls are decorated with old postcards depicting vintage scenes of old Hollywood and stuff. It’s all right. You feel like you’re eating at a real movie set with other annoying actors, and a clown and a lion. They have a regular breakfast and regular American lunch and dinner with grilled meats, veggies, pasta, fruit, and breads. Also seafood, fresh fish, and other stuff. This place is very noisy because the characters play to a younger crowd — plus with all the glass, tile, and chrome, you can hear it echo. Not the best place, but it’s okay.

50’s Prime Time Cafe (Food: B+; Service: A+++; Price: very good; Entertainment: A+++) (all American home-cooked table service) – Okay, this is a good one. At this place, you are served by your family. Your brother, sister, cousins, uncles, aunts, and mom all serve you — you dad tends [the] bar. Cast Members take their characters seriously, and soon you will find yourself immersed in dysfunction galore. If you play it up, you’ll have more fun. Here are the rules: 1) Eat your vegetables or no dessert; 2) Elbows off the table; 3) No fighting; 4) No playing with your food; 5) No talking back to mom (the best server you’ll get); and 6) Don’t talk with your mouth full. It’s really fun to push the limits and get “yelled at.” The more you piss off mom, the more disappointed she gets and looks like she may have a nervous breakdown. But you’re in the 50’s, so she has to act perfect. It’s quite a wonderful look at the maternal psyche. The whole place is decorated like a 50’s kitchen or dining room in someone’s house. The waiting room is a den/living room with tiny TVs that play old B+W TV sitcoms. Pastel laminate, gooseneck lamps, and B+W TVs line the dining area as well. The bar is in the den, and serves lots of alcohol. A huge selection. The best food on the menu is the pot roast and fried chicken. Some people like the meat loaf. The peanut butter and jelly milk shake is AWESOME!! I suggest you skip the appetizers unless you’re getting the yummy chicken noodle soup and play along! It’s a lot of fun, and the food is pretty decent. It tastes like a home cooked meal – nothing gourmet – but it’s not the point. This place is fun. That’s the most important part. Say hi to mom and sis for me! I highly recommend this restaurant.

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[to be continued…]
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