Up until the last couple years, I would call The Princess and the Frog an under appreciated Disney animated film. The story is fun, there’s a strong woman playing the princess (no submissive girls in this one) and the music is fantastic. Sometime in the last few years, the Disney executives realized they only had one Black princess and suddenly Tiana was everywhere! I’m happy she’s finally being appreciated but I wish the circumstances had been different – she should have been appreciated from day one, not tokenized. Also? She’s lonely. We need more Black princesses!
One of the many things to love about The Princess and the Frog is way food is used as a way to bring communities together. From the earliest parts of the film, Tiana’s father teacher her the magic of food. This lesson is taught over a pot of gumbo – a perfect choice! Gumbo can be made many different ways and it’s best with a variety of flavors to explode like fireworks with each bite. That said – the base of gumbo is always the same – a deep chocolate roux that requires care and patience and the holy trinity (celery, onion, green bell pepper). A community is much the same way – it’s best when it’s diverse, but as all relationships it must be based on compassion, inclusivity, respect, and empathy.
Our first dining review today is a newly rebranded eatery with a story. The Main Street Confectionary in Magic Kingdom shares the story of a baking competition between five different famous bakers, what led them to their recipes, and the baked good itself. Like gumbo, all good baked goods have a similar base – sugar, flour, and butter. Depending on diet there will be a mixed variety of these, but the foundation is the same. And love, of course, just like recipes Tiana learned from her father.
Today’s journey is also going to take us to Woody’s Lunchbox and Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios, and L’Artisans des Glaces in EPCOT! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so lets get moving.
The Main Street Confectionary
I never went to the confectionary before the rebranding, so I can’t speak to whether this new style is an improvement or a downgrade in experience or aesthetics. I will say I like the new version! It was the rebrand that brought me to the confectionary, and it’s a delightful store/eatery. I like that the Confectionary has a story now – I don’t believe it did before? There are hints and nods to the story throughout the shop, but at the bottom of it all, the Confectionary is another candy and baked goods shop. There are a few things I’m sure you can get here that you can’t get elsewhere, but for the most part, this is the same fare as you can get at Big Top Souvenirs over in Storybook Circus, or Goofy’s Candy Co. over in the Disney Springs. The theming in the Main Street Confectionary outstrips them all, but the treats are similar or the same.
One of my favorite pieces of the confectionary is watching the bakers at work. I am endlessly impressed by professional chefs and bakers. While we were there, we watched candy apples, chocolates, and cookies being made. So many people were focused on purchasing their treats they missed a lot of the atmosphere. And the lines are a little confusing – you place your order at one location, then move to a designated place to pick up and pay. That would be my one criticism – there should be a little signage, because we watched several guests (and ourselves) mess up this system.
Overall, the Confectionary is worth a peek even if you’re not buying anything. Step inside to watch the process and look at the tasty treats!
In the interest of not overfilling too much (a feat at Disney) we only purchased one treat from the Confectionary… but being honest, I was tempted to purchase everything. Including the candy apples, which I can’t even eat. Everything looks so good. I’m not a fan of Rice Krispie Treats for example, but I’ve had Disney’s before and they are good.
For our one snack, I picked the peanut butter pie. This is essentially a giant peanut butter cookie and in the middle they’ve scooped out a bit of cookie and filled it with chocolate fudge and peanut butter M&Ms. It was absolute perfection. The cookie was soft, the fudge creamy and just right. The appearance was a little messy, at least on the one I got, so maybe not the most instagrammable treat, but it was delicious and if you aren’t diabetic, don’t have a gluten or peanut-allergy… I recommend it. YUM. Between this and my past experience with Disney’s baked goods, I feel pretty confident in recommending the Confectionary. It’s a little on the pricier side, but it will be memorable.
Woody’s Lunch Box
Located in Toy Story Land over at Hollywood Studios, Woody’s Lunch Box is a hot spot. We placed our order at 7am-ish to pick up at 11:30am and by 11:30am, there were no lunch spots available until 4:30pm. The seating is also a problem – this is a seat yourself area and while there was a cast member limiting entry, we still idled 45 minutes looking for a table. I anticipated difficulty finding a table and was at the site 30min. early so that helped. That, and the food was 30min. late. Have I mentioned Woody’s Lunch Box is really popular? It’s really, really popular.
The theming is similar to the rest of Toy Story Land – the tables are made from the likeness of toys, leaning heavily on Tinker Toys and K’nex. Otherwise, there’s nothing remarkable about the theming of this quick service restaurant – it just fits in with the rest of the land. The seats comes in tall, standing tables (these baffle me anywhere – who wants to stand more at Disney World?) and some seated tables under umbrellas. There are no secrets or hidden seating areas that you may miss here – the restaurant needs to double its seating and hopefully the announced Roundup Rodeo BBQ table service restaurant coming to this land will help mitigate some of the crowds.
The specialty at Woody’s Lunchbox? Grilled cheese sandwiches. In this way, I’m very much a kid at heart – I love grilled cheese sandwiches! I was all over this restaurant after glowing recommendations from one of the friends we travelled with. We ended up with two different sandwiches and a “lunch box tart”, which I’ll share more about in a moment.
First and most important – grilled cheese. The grilled cheese is picture perfect to a Kraft cheese commercial – cheese pulls for days. That said, the cheese blend is much better than just a Kraft single. The bread is thick and the grilling is perfect and in general? So good. I got a basic grilled cheese with tomato bisque and there were a lot of good childhood memory vibes. We also ordered a pulled pork grilled cheese and it was good, but honestly? The pain grilled cheese was better.
Lunch Box Tarts are a snack entirely unique to Woody’s Lunch Box. These homemade Pop-Tarts are flavorful, flaky, and frankly much better than a standard Pop-Tart. The flavors change frequently and they often have special edition flavors so it’s worth checking back. We had a raspberry tart and it was delicious.
I really want to give Woody’s Lunch Box a higher score, but the lack of seating impacted the entire experience and at the end of the day I have to be honest, as much as I love grilled cheese… it’s just grilled cheese. I’d probably order Lunch Box Tarts to go in the future, but unless the seating improves, I think I’m all set.
Hollywood & Vine
Twenty years ago, Hollywood & Vine was a much cooler restaurant. The 50s-style silver screen restaurant was filled with music and the characters would joke around and dance with the guests and it was an experience. Like much of the film-industry legacy attractions at Hollywood Studios, it’s no longer given the love that the shinier new lands receive. Part of this, I think, was because of the table and character distancing due to COVID. But it’s more than that.
The service at Hollywood & Vine is the most lackluster I’ve experienced at the Disney Parks in a while. Like all the table service restaurants, Hollywood & Vine is understaffed. The staff that are there are frustrated. the particular service we had at the restaurant was not Disney-level. The server forgot to take orders from half our table and came out twenty minutes later to get three of the five orders. Some of the dishes came out significantly before others – ten to fifteen minutes. After we finally ate everything, it took ages to get the check. She never swung by the table to do refills or take away dishes. It was just… bad. I think we were in the restaurant for three hours.
For me, dining is part of the Disney experience and I really enjoy sitting down, recapping and planning with my party, and enjoying the delicious food. I didn’t mind Hollywood & Vine as a whole because it was good to sit, but other members of my party were unhappy. Unhappy to the point that they asked to be removed from all table service reservations for the rest of the trip because they felt it was a waste of time. They opted to do dinners in Disney Springs instead, where it was less busy and there were more adult restaurants. Yikes.
Worth noting – Hollywood & Vine does different characters at different times of day, and different costumes at different times of year. We hit the restaurants during “awards season” style, so we saw the characters dressed to the nines. It was cool to see different outfits!
I really liked the food at Hollywood & Vine. In fact, I had pretty low expectations for the meal and it exceeded those. Like most characters restaurants during COVID, the buffet was closed at Hollywood & Vine. Instead, H&V opted for a prix fixe three-course meal similar to what you get at Be Our Guest.
We started with a salad… which was, you know, a salad. Salads are salads, nothing exciting. It wasn’t the best I’d had on the trip but it wasn’t bad either. The bread was also nothing special – standard, run-of-the-mill rolls. There were a couple different meals at our table – I had the braised beef and really liked it. I wish it was a little more tender, but overall it was extremely flavorful. The mashed potatoes and green beans that came with it were perfect and garlicky and so yummy. We also had a couple people at the table order shrimp mac & cheese, which I’m told was the shining star of the dinner! I can’t do seafood but was told that the dish was rich with shrimp and the sauce was very cheddary and flavorful.
The desserts, on the other hand? Not worth waiting for. We tried the cheesecake, creme brûlée, and s’mores dessert. The s’mores dessert was the best of them at 5/10 stars. Overall, I’d rank Hollywood & Vine similar to Crystal Palace as it stands. When/if it goes back to buffet-style, it may be better. The nostalgia in me who had happy memories at this restaurant wanted to like it more than I did.
L’Artisan des Glacés
L’Artisan des Glacés – roughly translated as “Artisan Ice Cream” from French – was so good, I had it twice. On the same day. And I have no regrets. This little ice cream shop is tucked into a corner shop in EPCOT’s France Pavilion, right behind Chefs du France. If you’re heading back toward the boulangerié and Impressions du France, you’ll pass it on the left.
Inside the ice cream shop is very simple – the color scheme is blue and cream and there are antique farmhouse goods in glass cases at the entrance that add a little charm to the shop. I believe the feel they’re aiming for is not Paris, but the French countryside and that farm-fresh, quaint ice cream shop feel. If so, they’re succeeding. I’m very judgmental about ice cream – I grew up with farm-fresh homemade ice cream and I will call out something underwhelming… L’Artisan des Glacés is as good as any of the ice cream shops near me. The only thing missing aesthetically here were… three? I’d say it would do well with three wrought iron coffee shop-style tables indoors with folks enjoying their treats at them. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there used to be a few and they were removed because of COVID restrictions.
The aesthetics are always pretty good in EPCOT. I would expect nothing less.
I had two very different ice creams at L’Artisan des Glacés – first, a cone of peanut butter ice cream with candied peanuts and fudge ripple (pictured). I haven’t have candied peanuts in ages, and honestly, I’ve never had an ice cream quite like this one. It was extremely good. The waffle cone, too, was absolutely delicious! It’s been ages since I’ve had ice cream in a cone and again, I have no regrets. I ate this cone while I was exploring EPCOT by myself, looking at the Festival of the Arts displays, a didgeridoo player, and enjoying what was probably the loveliest afternoon we spent at that park. My memories from this moment are among my favorites from this trip, so I’m glad L’Artisan des Glacés was a part of that.
After falling in love with the cone, I convinced the rest of my party to follow me back to France. When you are on vacation, you get ice cream twice, and nobody judges you.
The second time, I had just a basic coffee ice cream… but it was really, really good. Coffee Oreo ice cream is one of my go-to flavors at my local ice cream shop, and this easily rivaled the coffee in that flavor. It was less cream, more coffee, and bursting with flavors. Delicious. But wait. There’s more. One of the special at L’Artisans des Glacés is the Croque Glacé. Basically? This is a scoop of ice cream drizzled with chocolate or caramel (your choice), closed in a brioche bun, and pressed in a panini press. … “But wait,” you say. “If you’re putting ice cream in a panini press, won’t it melt?” As it turns out – NO! Not even a little I ended up with a nice, warm brioche roll and a delicious coffee ice cream center and I absolutely recommend this.
Anything. Make L’Artisans des Glacés a part of your day at EPCOT. It’s worth it.