Dine with an Imagineer

Lori is shares her one of a kind experience dining with an Imagineer!!  Be sure to visit her over at Disney Gals

My sons turned 21 this summer. I wanted to get him a very special gift- what I wanted was a Disney memory. He is finishing his education in TV and film production at NYU. Ever since its inception I had been trying to book an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) to Dine with an Imagineer for him. Trip after trip I tried calling and booking online but my efforts were fruitless.

I was on a mission… I had never eaten at The Brown Derby. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this warm wood-paneled restaurant celebrates the Golden Age of Hollywood and it’s home to the original Brown Derby Cobb salad, and famous grapefruit cake.

When the 180-day mark hit I woke up at 4AM. Primed and ready, I sat with my laptop and my cell phone.  The Cast member on the phone was very helpful. I told her our dates and we were in luck. For his birthday gift we would Dine With an Imagineer!

When the day came, we arrived at Disney Hollywood Studios at rope drop. The manager welcomed us to the Brown Derby at 11:30 a.m. We were each given a badge with our name on it to wear and take home as a keepsake. We were escorted to a private dining room called the Bamboo Room.  You could feel the anticipation of the guests. We were a group of 4 and there were 6 others from another group. We were then introduced to our Imagineer, Sarah, and our wait staff.

After we were seated the food took center stage. There were a lot of great flavors in our lunch. The menu offered several choices for each course, including their famous Cobb salad. See the price fixed menu below. Everyone in our group got the steak. It was delicious. We ended on the grapefruit cake.

What a perfect time to test out the Brown Derby Grapefruit cake. There are many online recipes but why heat up your kitchen when the Disney Chefs can create it for you?

We enjoyed our lunch and spent the pleasurable hour visiting with Sarah, who works in the graphic design division in. Her job falls under the Imagineer umbrella. She passed around an exclusive wooden binder that she helped design. That was my favorite part of her talk.

She took her main course to go, admitting that she always eats it later and enjoys her salad with the group. Someone asked her if she had agreed to attend the lunch under pressure and she said that was not the case she enjoyed it . When the program was announced, a lot of Cast members signed up and there is a waiting list to be the Imagineer of the day.

At the end of the meal Sarah signed a special souvenir plate for each member of our party.

This is definitely something to consider trying. I would not suggest it for children. It is costly and the kids who were at our table said they were bored.

I do not think we will do it again however; each lunch would be a completely different experience with a different Imagineer and a different group of dining companions.

We walked out of the Brown Derby with our nametags proudly displayed and our tummy’s full.

Footnote: as recorded by the Brown Derby itself:

“One night in 1937, Bob Cobb, then owner of The Brown Derby, prowled hungrily in his restaurant’s kitchen for a snack. Opening the huge refrigerator, he pulled out this and that: a head of lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, some cold breast of chicken, a hard-boiled egg, chives, cheese and some old-fashioned French dressing. He started chopping. Added some crisp bacon — swiped from a busy chef.

“The Cobb salad was born. It was so good, Sid Grauman (Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), who was with Cobb that midnight, asked the next day for a ‘Cobb Salad.’ It was so good that it was put on the menu.

“Cobb’s midnight invention became an overnight sensation with Derby customers, people like movie mogul Jack Warner, who regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick up a carton of the mouth-watering salad.”

Disney Gal-Lori Hope Fries is married to her own Prince Charming. She is a true girly-girl with 3 incredible sons Jared, Dennis and Sammy. She is a busy stay at home mom, a card-carrying Disney annual pass holder, cancer fighter and Disney aficionado! When not volunteering at Give Kids The World she is planning the next Disney trip and crossing things off her bucket list.

Menu

Soup

Portsmouth Lobster Bisque, Tarragon Oil, and a Brentwood Sweet Corn Lobster Relish

Salad

Individual Classic Cobb Salad with Finely Chopped Greens, Turkey Breast,

Bacon, Egg, Tomatoes, Crumbled Bleu Cheese, Avocado,

and Cobb Salad Dressing

Entrées

Choice of one:

Char-grilled Filet of Beef with Cotswold Butter over Fingerling Potatoes, Asparagus,

Ugly Ripe Tomatoes, and a Broken Cabernet-Shallot Vinaigrette

or

Noodle Bowl with a Grilled Breast of Chicken, Soy Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Bok

Choy, and Shiitake Mushrooms in a Red Curry Broth

or

Coriander-dusted Grouper, Cauliflower Risotto, fresh English Peas, crunchy

Sunchokes, and a Yellow Tomato Coulis

Desserts

Choice of one:

Grapefruit Cake – Light Layers of Yellow Cake with

fresh Grapefruit Cream Cheese Icing

or

Double Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with

Dark Chocolate-dipped Biscotti

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