From Hollywood to Disney Hollywood Studios: The Brown Derby

Written by Shelby Pickett. Posted in Features


Published on August 19, 2014 at 2:00 am with 10 Comments

Greetings fellow MiceChatters and readers!

This week I will be highlighting both a Hollywood and a Disney Hollywood Studios Classic – The Brown Derby.

In 1926, Robert H. Cobb opened the original Brown Derby at 3427 Wilshire Blvd. In 1937, the original derby-shaped building was moved to 3377 Wilshire Blvd, just a block down from its original location.

Cobb opened the second location in his restaurant chain, the Hollywood Brown Derby, on Valentine’s Day 1929 at 1628 North Vine Street in Hollywood. This was the most famous location due to its regular celebrity patrons.

This is the location where Clark Gable is said to have proposed to Carole Lombard in booth #5 (this booth exists in the Disney Hollywood Studios version, and can be requested). This is also the location in which Lucy (Lucille Ball) inadvertently causes a waiter to hit William Holden in the face with a pie in one of the first “I Love Lucy” Hollywood episodes. (These booths exist at Hollywood Studios as well, but are not as well known as booth #5).



Sadly, the Hollywood Brown Derby was closed in 1987 after it was destroyed by fire.

Just two years prior to the opening of Disney’s MGM Studios, The Brown Derby began a licensing program with the Walt Disney Company for the construction of a replica of the original Hollywood Brown Derby for Disney’s new park in Orlando, Florida. In 1990, The Walt Disney Company added three additional agreements for Euro-Disney, Tokyo Disney and Disneyland in Anaheim, California. These three were never constructed.




Today, the Hollywood Studios Brown Derby sits largely unchanged since its opening in 1989. It serves as a very unique (Signature) dining experience inside the park.

Each morning at 11:30 AM the restaurant holds a “ribbon cutting” and “photoshoot” for the first reservation of the day. They then give out Derby hats (plastic mind you) to their newfound “Stars”, as well as a keepsake photo for each person in the party.

You can also find a large book in the reception area with autographs from stars that have visited the restaurant over the years (The pages change every day or two, so keep checking back for your favorites), as well as an array of the iconic caricatures that were found along the walls in the original restaurant. Many of them are reproductions but, according to the restaurant, the color ones come from the original Hollywood Derby.


The “Derby” serves the famed Cobb Salad, which is my personal favorite, ($9 + Tax for a half portion, $16 + Tax for the full entree portion as of this writing), an array of amazing appetizers such as Portsmouth Lobster Bisque and Blue Lump Crab Spring Rolls, and mouthwatering entrées such as Sterling Silver Pork Tenderloin, Spice Rubbed Grouper and Charred-Grilled Filet of Beef. For dessert they offer the original Mini Grapefruit Cake, Banana White Chocolate Toffee Tower and Chocolate 3 Ways, as well as a variety of others. Hungry yet?


They also offer a children’s menu which features Black Grouper (which is enough for some adults for a fraction of the price), Penne Pasta, and a Grilled Chicken Breast. All of which are their “Mickey Check” selections. (All of the food selections change seasonally) The restaurant also offers a selection of fine wines from both Disney’s Family of Wines as well as popular California-only labels, hot teas, coffee, and hot chocolate.




The restaurant also features a full bar with table-side service if you have a reservation for the dining room. If a casual experience is more your style, the restaurant offers a full service bar on its patio (weather permitting) offering all of the signature and classic drinks available inside, as well as the majority of the dining room menu and even some lounge-only offerings.


(Tables on the patio are available on a first-come first-serve basis)


They also have a large array of your favorite drinks to go. My favorite is the “Dorma Nesmond” which is the equivalent of a Cosmopolitan with Pomegranate liquor.


Try it out, you won’t be sorry!.

Tip: If you are looking for a quiet evening, visit the lounge prior to 5:30 PM to avoid the “Frozen DJ” party (Now through September 28th). This show features flashing lights that shine right into the patio seating area (those of you with a sensitivity to flashing/bright lights might wish to avoid this experience), as well as very loud music. However, if you enjoy the high energy music, it’s the perfect place to grab a drink, relax and people watch – anytime from 5:30PM-9:30PM to enjoy.

Fun Fact: The restaurant has a private dining room named “The Bamboo Room” it can be reserved for private parties or Corporate events. This is also the location of the “Dine with an Imagineer” experience that can be booked though Disney.



  • The Brown Derby is a Signature dining experience, and will require 2 table service credits if you are on the Disney Dining Plan.
  • This restaurant offers discounts to Annual Passholders (10%), DVC Members (10%), Disney Visa Cardholders (10%), Tables in Wonderland a Cardholders (20% and includes all alcohol), and Disney Cast Members (Varies). These discounts are subject to change without notice.
  • If you have kids or if your a kid at heart, try to get a reservation for 11:30 am, and show up at least 10 minutes early. The kids (or you) will enjoy being “Stars” for a day.
  • Order the Cobb Salad. It’s a classic, and you won’t be disappointed!

Have a favorite Brown Derby offering or experience? Tell us in the comments!

Be sure to check out “Exploring the Magic Kingdom”, the first book in my new “Ultimate Disney Parks Scavenger Hunt Series”. It’s an Adventure that is fun for the whole family!

You can find it at Also, be sure to Like us on Facebook!

Are you a fan of the Brown Derby? What are your tips and favorites? 

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  • eicarr

    With local history and salads, it would be a perfect fit for DCA. However, the lack of interest in slow/expensive table service would necessitate a setup like Carnation Plaza.

  • coprogressfan

    Like much of WDW these days, the Brown Derby is a sad shell of its former self. I remember larger portions and a more varied menu. (And not $16 for a salad!).

    There was even a live pianist for most of the day, as well as an occasional accompanying vocalist.

    Of course, now you can hear the thumping bass and flashing lights from a “dance party” outside, so I’m sure that more than makes up for it…..

  • Dusty Sage

    Shelby, thank you so much for the in depth review! I LOVE the Brown Derby. It really does transport you to another time and place. A shame that they didn’t work it into DCA’s remodel as well.

  • Big D

    I only ate there once ten years ago, but the cobb salad was amazing, and I had the absolute best dessert that I’ve ever had in my life. It was Bananas Foster Cheesecake, and it had Bananas Foster baked into bottom crust of the cheesecake.

  • holierthanthoutx

    We’ve visited WDW nearly 30 times since the Studios opened, and the Hollywood Brown Derby is the only restaurant at which we’ve eaten on every single visit. Never missed it. Never plan to miss it. Even when my husband and I were only there for a three-day work conference, we made a reservation and had lunch there one of the days.

    I can only think of three or four occasions where I ordered anything other than the Cobb Salad. It’s simply perfect. Everything else I’ve had there was also fantastic, but, when given the choice between a Cobb Salad and something else, the Cobb Salad always wins. As Big D says above, there used to be an amazing cheesecake dessert based around Bananas Foster, and I was very disappointed when they took that off the menu — probably in late 2004 or early 2005 — but the Grapefruit Cake never fails to satisfy, either.

    Our favorite dining experience was a meal we had in the Bamboo Room. Our waiter, Moses, informed us that we were sitting at Michael Jackson’s favorite table. One of those “Disney magic” experiences!

  • solarnole

    I don’t like how you can hear the stupid playhouse disney show next store by the bathrooms. It’s good but not signature. The restaurants at boardwalk are worth the boat ride for better food, views and cheaper prices.

  • Ken Goldenberg

    GREAT ARTICLE! And what a coincidence… I write a monthly food and drink column for our local TV station’s program guide and in September it will be the history of the Cobb Salad! I also give the original recipe (culled from Disney’s version!). Too bad that most Cobb salads people get are nothing close to the original that can be found at DHS Brown Derby! Truly wonderful food.
    We didn’t eat there on our last trip in July, but I did walk in to look around.

    But I’ve also had that very Cobb salad as well at the real Brown Derby on Hollywood and Vine in the early 1980′s (as well as the fantastic grapefruit cake!), and prior to that, I’ve went to the iconic Derby hat location when I was a kid on a trip to Disneyland.

    Maybe Disney will still use those rights to build another Derby at Disneyland – but I guess Carthay Circle sort of takes it’s place as an upscale restaurant in California Adventure.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    When I first came to MGM/Disney Studios I was SO disappointed that the exterior was not the iconic derby that I had seen in so many books. It was a BIG mistake for Disney to miss this. Since in LA, the derby is long gone. It would have been a real thrill to enter a restaurant that looked like that. They thought that they would go after wealthy guests who would be embarrassed to enter a giant derby. I think they really missed that the exterior of the place makes a big impact on the desirability of the guest to spend money. Frankly, I see the Brown Derby a bland restaurant that was another mistake by Disney. And, yes, I have eaten there but have no desire to do so again.

    • TheKramer

      I am wealthy and my life long dream is to walk through a giant brown derby hat, embarrasment, be darned…good day, sir!

  • yellowrocket

    Too bad the accompanying Cat Walk bar is gone. I used to go there and have a drink above the soundstage before having dinner at the Brown Derby – truly one of the Studios’ lost hidden treasures.