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Sunday Brunch

"Sundae" Brunch in Hollywood
February 20, 2011

By Reuben Gutierrez

This Sunday Brunch article is dedicated to Becky Staudt for inspiring today's topic!

Dining at Disney is quite a memorable and popular part of visiting the Disney Theme Parks because of the high-quality food, service and experience Disney always provides.  Once I come home from a week of great dining, I sometimes wish Disney Dining was more accessible someway somehow.  True, I could pull out my Disney cookbook and recreate a Disney dish as I have before-but it will be tough transforming the breakfast nook into a uniquely themed setting, not to mention, my brother may not appreciate being asked to wear his old cast member name tag and serve me breakfast.  So am I left just wishing for a Disney dining experience without having to venture to a Disney park?  If you're lucky enough to be a California resident, you've probably had the fortune to do more than wish.

Over the past few decades, the Disney Company has attempted to answer the call for some outside-the-resorts dining venues (not counting Anaheim and Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney areas).  When the Disney Stores started opening up in the late 1980s to the early 1990s, one particular store in the Montclair Plaza Mall in Montclair, California opened an adjacent sandwich shop called Mickey's Kitchen.  That venue didn't last very long, so today we'll be focusing on another attempt at Disney Dining outside the parks that still stands today (though there will be more on Mickey's Kitchen next week).

Back in 2009, my family took a trip to the West Coast and found a slice of Disney outside of Disney, so let's take a stroll down memory lane through Hollywood Boulevard! 

    

As we walk down the Walk of Fame, occasionally glancing down at some famous names and glancing up at some famous Hollywood landmarks, you may have to stop and think for a minute that you're not at Disney's Hollywood Studios or Universal Studios.  The real Hollywood has the real Chinese Theater, which looks significantly dirtier than the Disney version, and screens non Disney movies (like Harry Potter!).  To further make sure you're not in WDW, just dash away from the busy street of traffic and dodge away from Barney, Mickey, Hello Kitty, Spiderman, and Darth Vader as they beg for money to take a picture with them.

Walk a little further down towards the majestic El Capitan Theater across from the Kodak Center and you'll find a sweet little shop, Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store!



As you cross the threshold, you'll find a star out of line from the others on the walk-it's actually the star for Disneyland! This star was rewarded in 2005 for reaching its 50th Anniversary.  Once inside the soda fountain/store, you find yourself in a place from the past.  The Soda Fountain portion of the shop is reminiscent of the old 1940s and 1950s soda fountains, complete with costumed cast members and classic diner decor, with poofy cushioned booths and gleaning metal cafe chairs and tables.  The biggest surprise for me about the Soda Fountain was its size.  Being in a shop in the middle of busy Hollywood Boulevard, you realize how much of a luxury of space the Disney theme parks usually afford.

The place was busy and bustling, so we had to wait a bit for a table, but with the shop as part of the space of the Soda Fountain (a la Cracker Barrel), the wait is no problem.  The Studio Store was basically a conglomerate of all the great parts about the mall Disney Stores that they took out.  A lot of art and collectibles were mixed with the usual Disney gifts and merchandise fare, along with some Studio Store exclusive merchandise and the part that made the Studio Store distinct: the biggest collection of Disney Movies for retail sale.  I remember the giant, beautiful wall of Disney DVDs, though I can't say it was every DVD they've ever made-just the ones in print.  You'd think with the ACTUAL Disney Vault (see below) near the ceiling they'd have out of print DVDs.

After fretting about the lack of OOP DVDs, we were called to our table and the candy striped waiter handed us each a lovely, classic diner menu featuring the soda shops specialties.


Word of advice, don't come here ravenous for lunch-they do have some lunch (and brunch!) items available, but not too many as they are mostly an ice cream and soda shop than a luncheonette.  Also, a true Disney dining experience isn't complete without those expected Disney prices.  Check out the price for Mickey's Masterpiece Sundae!  It costs more than the Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream, but comes in a magical sorcerer hat dish.  My wallet and lactose intolerance prevented me from ordering this fun looking treat so I went for-what else? Brunch!

You can never go wrong with a waffle, especially if it's shaped like Mickey!  Each bite was complete with a thin and crispy, buttery crusty outside and soft and fluffy waffle inside.  With the little pitcher of syrup, my brunch was quite a nice presentation though again, don't come here if you're hungry for lunch.  For the non-Ice cream menu items, portion sizes were small, so a single menu item was a bit lacking.  Still, one must remember, the place is a soda fountain and you shouldn't expect to have more than a soda and ice cream.

The Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store has been around for several years and being next to the El Capitan Theater, where Disney has a lot of Disney movie premieres and also tapes Jimmy Kimmel Live, it gets plenty of traffic, and continues to live on.  It's a great little getaway and a nod to Hollywood's history of soda fountains in the glamorous part of Hollywood.  The shop certainly lives up to Disney standards as far as service and experience and it is visited by the rich and famous of Southern California such as these Disney stars!


(Brenda Song, Donny Osmond, and Raven Symone, most likely for a Press Event for the Disney film College Road Trip)

If you're not a famous Disney star, you can pretend to be one, and celebrate your achievements with an official Mousecar!  With one of those little statues sitting on your table while you're chowing down on an Ice Cream Sundae or gnawing the ears off your Mickey Waffle, you can certainly feel like a star or trick some kids into thinking you are one.

 

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