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Dine With A Disney Imagineer

by Sue Kulick, PassPorter Message Board Guide and Featured Columnist

In our quest to build the perfect Disney vacation, my husband Steve and I have decided to do a different theme park tour or experience each trip. This past March, we chose "Lunch with an Imagineer" at the Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios. What a great choice that turned out to be!

We arrived at the Brown Derby at 11:20 am for an 11:30 am lunch. Disney Dining suggests arriving 15 minutes early, but we hadn't anticipated the heavier-than-usual March crowds and we were running a little behind schedule. Not to worry - we received badges engraved with our names and "Disney Dining with an Imagineer." As a pin collector, my first thought was "How cool is this?" Soon Mike, the manager of the Brown Derby, came out to the lobby and gathered us into a group. We were dining with a family of four, and the first thing I noticed about them was that the father was carrying a deluxe edition of PassPorter! Mike then asked us if anyone was from the press or the Internet. I 'fessed up and said that I was a moderator on an Internet message board. He asked that anything said at lunch remained strictly confidential, which was fine with me and totally made sense! One thing Mike told us which I found fascinating was that this Brown Derby was the last remaining "real life" Brown Derby. When it was designed in I believe he said 1986, the Imagineers had to work from pictures and mementos of the original Hollywood Brown Derby, because they had no prototype to copy from. It's nice to see Walt Disney World carrying on a little piece of old-time Hollywood tradition!

We were then led into "The Bamboo Room," a small private room with a table set especially for us. Our Imagineer, Alex, was waiting for us. We introduced ourselves, and sat down to have a fantastic lunch! Our drink orders were taken. Soft drinks are included in the price of the lunch, and alcoholic beverages are available for additional charge. We were then given menus and told that our meal came with soup, an individual Cobb salad, and a choice of one of the three entrées. Best of all, the menus were personalized! They were a scrapbooker's delight! Steve and I ordered the Thai noodle bowl with chicken; the other choices were steak and salmon. The soup was the Brown Derby's famous Mulligatawny soup, which was awesome, followed by the salad, and then by the entrée. The chicken was so tender you didn't even need a knife, and it had a wonderful flavor to it. Dessert was the vanilla crème brulée, which was to die for!

And the conversation! Of course, I can't go into details, but let's just say that Alex is a very knowledgeable and personable Imagineer. He had been extensively involved with the creation of Disney's Animal Kingdom, and graciously answered our many questions. Our lunch lasted over two hours, and I could have sat there for another two hours. After leaving, I though of about 20 more things I would have liked to have asked him!

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The lunch ended with each family receiving a beautiful autographed plate. The Brown Derby was also willing to hold these until we were ready to go back to our resort, which was much nicer than having to carry them around the park. As we were leaving the restaurant, we were chatting with the family we were seated with, and it turned out that this lunch was a surprise for their two children. Their son was interested in engineering and design, and by the end of the lunch, their daughter also thought that Imagineering was a great career choice.

The cost of the meal was $60.99, plus tax and an 18% gratuity, per person. There are no discounts available for this meal.

Lunch with an Imagineer is held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can make your Advanced Dining Reservations 30 days in advance, and I called Disney Dining exactly 30 days out to make sure I got the seating I wanted. You will need a credit card to hold your reservation, and there is a 48 hour cancellation policy. When you reserve, the name you give for the reservation will be the name that is on your name badge.

The cast member who booked my reservation told me I was in for a very special meal. She was SO right!!

This article originally appeared in our May 11, 2006 newsletter and was last updated on February 14, 2008 -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

Related Articles:

MurderWatch Mystery Dinner Theater
Eating Healthy at Disney


Return to | Discuss lodging on the PassPorter Message Boards

Updated 02/14/2008 

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