Location

Disney's Hollywood Studios in Hollywood Boulevard

Entree range

Lunch and dinner $16–$43 (child $6–$14)

Summary

The Brown Derby is one of the top theme park restaurants at Disney World. It’s expensive, yes, but also a wonderful way to relax and regenerate. The decor is so perfect you’ll feel as if you’re in a Fred Astaire–Ginger Rogers movie. Service is outstanding, as is the food.

If you don’t have reservations, the patio lounge opens at noon and is first come, first served, with a menu of small plates and cocktails, and a good place to have a drink and wait until your table is ready. Shaded by big umbrellas, the outdoor tables are great spots for people-watching. The menu ($9–$29) is all small plates: Cobb salad, artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, Wagyu-beef sliders with Cognac-mustard aioli and Gouda cheese, and desserts. (You can also order from the regular menu.) Drink choices include various flights—martinis, margaritas, Champagnes, white and red wines, Scotches, and Grand Marnier vintages—along with wines by the glass or half-bottle and classic cocktails.

Setting and Atmosphere

The Disney’s Hollywood Studios version of the Brown Derby is a copy. It’s actually an approximation of the second Brown Derby restaurant that was built in Southern California (the original Brown Derby was built as a coffee shop in the shape of a derby hat). The second location, opened on Valentine’s Day 1929, was located near the corner of Hollywood and Vine and the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version was modeled after this more popular version.

How popular was it? Well, the Hollywood Brown Derby was so frequented by the big movie stars of the day that fans would send mail to the Brown Derby addressed to the stars. The Hollywood Brown Derby is also famous for being the birthplace of a very famous dish when, in 1934, the second president of the Derby, Robert Cobb, invented a salad in the wee hours of the morning. He liked it so much he named it after himself and added The Cobb Salad to the menu.

In a strange twist of Disney-related history, the original Hollywood Brown Derby was depicted in the Mickey and the Beanstalk portion of the 1947 Disney animated short film Fun and Fancy Free. It also was the final time Walt Disney voiced Mickey in an animated feature, before handing duties over to Jimmy MacDonald.

At one point, a poor young artist requested permission to sketch caricatures of the celebrities in attendance in return for food. The drawings became such a hit that they eventually covered many of the walls of the restaurant. These caricatures define the Brown Derby and became its most recognizable aspect. The stars loved them so much that most are signed by the celebrities themselves. Copies of these drawings adorn the walls of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version of the restaurant and there are even a few gold framed originals on the premises.

In addition to the drawings, there are many details and design elements that recall the Spanish mission style of the building it was modeled after. The likenesses start with the tile floor and exposed beams in the lobby and continue through the dining room’s barrel vaulted ceiling. The classy lamps and the light fixtures in the shape of a derby add authenticity and whimsy to the dining area. The curved booths harken back to a day when you would expect to see Clark Gable proposing to Carole Lombard (rumored to have happened in the original).

House Specialties

Cobb salad (of course), the famous grapefruit cake made from the original Brown Derby recipe, grilled Wagyu-beef burger, and original fettuccine Alfredo at lunch; beef Wellington, lamb “two ways” (chop and pulled), charred fillet of beef and an odd tofu noodle bowl at dinner. Expensive add-ons of lobster tail or scallops that should be entrées but aren’t. The kids’ menu includes grilled black grouper, whole-grain penne pasta, and grilled chicken breast.

Other Recommendations

Togarashi-pumpkinseed-crusted ahi tuna, crispy jumbo lump crab cake appetizer.

Menus

Details

Requires Credit Card to Reserve: Yes
Requires Pre-payment in Full: No

Discounts

Type Discount Valid Weekdays Valid Meals
Tables in Wonderland 20% All All

Disney Dining Plan

2018

Requires 2 credits

Photos