When it comes to Walt Disney World restaurants, the understood rule when it comes to restaurants is the nicer, classier restaurants are reserved for the resorts while the theme parks offer conventional, less formal restaurants to appease the masses. The Hollywood Brown Derby, however, bucks this trend and has been offering a fine dining experience inside Disney's Hollywood Studios for years and continues to be the exception to this rule.
What I love about the Hollywood Brown Derby is the ambiance of the place. There's something about the wait staff that wear tuxedos and the pictures of Hollywood's best known celebrities along the wall that says to the guest, "you're somewhere really nice" when they dine here. There's nothing wrong with having restaurants that just serve food without the formality, but having the Brown Derby in the Studios is a touch that distinguishes the park from others.
Last week I had the opportunity to dine at the Hollywood Brown Derby once again and it reminded me of how lovely an experience it can be. It's one of those restaurants that refuses to water down its menu to appease everyone. In fact, the chefs at the Hollywood Brown Derby have full control over the menu to adjust it as they see fit (with the exception of a few well known dishes like the Cobb Salad). This isn't a restaurant that offers a fish dish, a chicken dish and a steak.
Fine dining at Walt Disney World can be overlooked by many for being too over the top and presumptuous. The beauty of the Hollywood Brown Derby is there is no dress code (it is inside a theme park after all) and so it lowers the bar for anyone to come in and try it. The dishes may sound exotic and often the accompaniments are things I've never heard of, but when you actually see your entree, you come to realize how good it really is. My dad often jokes that his favorite restaurant is Dennys because they have a picture menu and I have to admit I wish there was a picture menu at the Hollywood Brown Derby because I feel like I'm missing out on entrees I might like but am too unsure as to what the meal actually is.
The Hollywood Brown Derby has been operating in the Studios since the park opened and yet it remains an overlooked restaurant because of the unapologetic menu as well as the prices. But if you're looking for somewhere in Walt Disney World to eat that is special and different from the "usual fare", it's hard to go wrong with the Brown Derby. I'd recommend talking with your waiter and asking him or her what dishes they prefer. If all else fails, pick something and try a few of their phenomenal mixed drinks and enjoy the feeling that you're really dining in Hollywood for an hour or so.