We previously took a look at the Fantasmic Dining Package available at The Hollywood Brown Derby here. Today, we are going to look at a cheaper alternative to that package with a trip to Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano.
Similar to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant at Magic Kingdom, Mama Melrose’s has a bit of a subpar reputation. While it’s nothing all that special, we think it is significantly better than Tony’s. The restaurant is inspired by hole in the wall Italian restaurants you may come across in New York City or Los Angeles.
The restaurant has on open view kitchen, along with a small bar area with some seats for those waiting for a table. Due to it’s location, tucked way back by the exit to Muppet Vision 3D, it’s one of the easier restaurants to score a late reservation or even a walk in table. The Fantasmic Package however, is a bit harder to score. This is most likely due to it being by far the cheapest option.
The decor is kind of kitschy with red leather booths, grape vines hanging from the ceiling and Christmas lights all year round.
Like the Brown Derby package, you get an entree and a dessert with the package. Also, like the Brown Derby, a decent amount of value was lost last year when the appetizer was removed from the package. At $43 per adult, you are going to have a tougher time here breaking even than you would at the $63 per adult cost of The Brown Derby. The package costs 1 dining credit on the meal plan making it a significantly greater use of credits than the 2 charged for The Brown Derby.
Most traditional Italian dishes range in the $21 – $24 range here. Add a $9 dessert and a $4 soft drink to that an your only at $34 – $37 per adult. The only way to really reach that $43 mark is to order the $33 strip steak. The $28 saltimbocca will put you close as well.
We start things off with a solid, if unspectacular bread service. The bread is served warm and has a nice soft interior. Olive oil with various Italian spices is offered for dipping.
Always one to try and get my money’s worth, I ordered the strip steak. The steak typically comes with 4-cheese mac & cheese but I asked for mashed potatoes instead. The potatoes tasted freshly prepared (ie not powder in a box) and were mixed with some delicious herbs.
The steak was shockingly good. I did not have high expectations but it was delicious. The exterior had a great sear with a nice black pepper flavor and it was cooked to a perfect medium. There was also little – no fat on it. It’s not California Grill or Yachtsman quality, but it was really good for what it is. The overall presentation of the dish was it’s not exactly a fancy restaurant so it gets a pass on that.
The dessert is a pre-determined sampler. Lemon cheesecake w/ boba balls, tiramisu, and a bite sized blood orange cake. I’m a sucker for both cheesecake and boba balls so I loved that. The tiramisu was average and I did not care for the orange cake.
Overall, I had a surprisingly really good meal. If you are a steak lover, I recommend going that way as the Italian classics I’ve had here in the past have been much less impressive. While we still prefer the Brown Derby dining package (Brown Derby ranks as our #1 in park WDW restaurant), this is a viable option for those looking to spend a little less.
The seating area for Fantasmic is shared by all 3 restaurants that offer the package, so there is no advantage there in choosing a more expensive option. It’s the very best view you can have for the show and we wholeheartedly recommend the dining package for those seeing the show for the first time!
I didn’t have my 70-200 f2.8 zoom lens which I would typically use to shoot Fantasmic with. Instead these photos were all taken with a 105 mm f2.8 prime.
The Snow White float has been missing in action for the better part of this year. We have heard no explanation as to why but hopefully it wasn’t just cut for budget purposes.
Unlike the Brown Derby Package, you are unlikely to break even on your money at Mama Melrose’s unless you go for the strip steak. That being said, a small upcharge is still worth it in our eyes to get the reserved Fantasmic spot. Not only do you get the best view of the show, but you can arrive 25 – 30 minutes before showtime (rather than 45-60 w/ fastpass or even more for standby) and not have to worry.
The third option for Fantasmic Dining is a character meal at Hollywood & Vine. This will be attractive for some families as well. We will be back with a full review of that in the future, as well as the Fantasmic Dessert Party.
Until then, thanks for reading and bye for now!