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Photos and review of the new 'AMC Dine-In Theatre' experience at Downtown Disney

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Downtown Disney's AMC Dine-In Theatres opened last night for some test screenings, a few days ahead of the official opening on Monday. We were in attendance at the screening of "The Hangover" (great movie by-the-way!), so here are our impressions of the new Dine-In experience.

Entering the AMC from the former Pleasure Island side, it becomes very obvious that this an all new experience, and one that is being aimed at a higher price point. Resembling a lobby of a hotel, the ticket and guest services desk is to to the right, large comfy chairs in the center, with a full service bar at the center rear of the lobby (head to the photos below for a look at the lobby).  Servers are on-hand in the lobby area to begin drink waiter service almost as soon as you enter. The lobby looks great, similar in decor to the newly refurbished West Side lobby.

One of the nice features of the Dine-In experience is the ability to reserve a specific seat when ordering tickets. You are presented with a seat map of the theater, showing available seats for selection. The theater for our movie, screen 22, was comprised of about 25 rows, with seats in blocks of 4, 4, and 2. AMC have converted 6 of the oldest theatres into the new Dine-In theatres.

Entrance into the theater begins 30 minutes prior to showtime. The theater, completely refurbished, looked great. The seats are large reclining red leather seats, with ample width and leg room. In front of the seats is a good sized table, which runs the entire length of the block of seats. The table has downlighting from above to assist you in the dark conditions. There is a foot rest attached to the bottom of the table. (Head to the photos below for a look at the theater).

Being a small theater, the screen is on the smaller side for modern theaters, but delivers excellent picture quality. The sound system, which like the display system is all new, sounds great.

Once you take your seat, menus are ready at each seat for you to make your selection from. There are appetizers, entrees, desserts, and a full service bar. The food options are fairly typical of what you might expect from a TGI Fridays, or sports bar. Appetizers include wings, onion rings, potato skins. Entrees include burgers, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, with desserts including various sundaes, cup cakes, and chocolate creations. You can view the full menu here.

When ready to place your order, you press a call button in front of your seat, and one of the team of servers arrives to take your order. The server uses a handheld computer to take the order. Our drinks and appetizer arrived within 10 minutes of ordering, around 15 minutes before the movie began. The entrees arrived just as the movie began.

Something that our group was concerned about that turned out not to be an issue was the disturbance to the movie by the servers. The way the theater is laid out means that the servers are able to access the seats without really walking in front of anyone. We were impressed by that part of the design.

The food was acceptable, but not great, which is probably to be expected with this type of venue. If you like TGI, T-REX, Planet Hollywood or Rain Forest Cafe, you will like the offerings here. Our main concern with the food was perhaps the pricing. Appetizers were around $7 to $8, entrees around $9 to $15, desserts around $6, with a soft drinks being $3.75. It would be very easy to come out with a big check for average food, but perhaps worth it for the overall experience.

During the movie, the server checked on us a few times, and was always available by pressing the call button. Our check was brought to us about 10 minutes before the end of the movie, and is paid for in the same was as at a table service restaurant. The timing of everything was very well done, seaming to fit the length of the movie perfectly.

Overall we found the new Dine-In theater to be a very welcome addition to the Downtown Disney offerings and something that we would definitely do again. It really is a unique experience that should prove to be very popular with both tourists and locals. Fans of the Sci Fi diner at Disney's Hollywood Studios will find a lot of similarities, yet with the ability to watch current theater releases instead of the classic clips. If you are looking to make more of an event out of your movie experience we would highly recommend you try out the new Dine-In theater experience. It officially opens on Monday May 16 2011.
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