The following article was written by guest blogger Brian Sullivan, who happened to be visiting Walt Disney World during PizzeRizzo’s opening day! Many, many thanks to Brian for his hard work and love of pizza!
November 18th, it seems, is a big day for Disney rodents, as it is Mickey Mouse’s birthday. More importantly, however, is the fact that in 2016 his distant cousin (several species removed) Rizzo the Rat chose that day to hold the grand opening of the first ever Muppet-themed restaurant, PizzeRizzo at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort.
There is an overwhelmingly large number of features at PizzeRizzo for Muppet fanatics to celebrate in this subtly themed venue. Aside from the cannoli, the food is not one of them, though. Expect fairly standard counter service pizzas and salads, with a meatball sub and an antipasto salad thrown in for some variety. But what do you expect from food prepared by rats, even if they are of the fake fur and felt kind?
For an added experience, carry your tray to the second floor and eat in Rizzo’s Deluxe Supreme Banquet Hall. Be sure to catch the Muppets Take Manhattan-inspired wedding party listing on the board outside the Hall.
The Muppety goodness is found in the details scattered outside and around the former Pizza Planet location, some so subtle only rabid fans would get the reference, including:
The obvious PizzeRizzo-themed “moichendice” (why they are behind glass and not available for sale remains a mystery, but it may be something to be hopeful for, especially the yo-yo’s and frisbees).
The not-so-obvious rat-sized pizza delivery bicycle on a shelf in the kitchen area.
And congratulations to Yolanda for once again being honored as Employee of the Month!
Even the trash cans are Rizzo-themed!
The banquet hall upstairs is decorated to make you feel like you are at an Italian American wedding reception. Music is typical reception dance hits from Michael Jackson, The Bee Gees, etc. There is a parquet dance floor but they had tables on it, and there’s a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. There was not a sign of anything Muppety in the room. Missed opportunity or just subtle theming? You decide.
That the Imagineers at Disney chose not to include “actual” Muppets or animatronics was at first a disappointment to many. I don’t think the animatronics would work the way they designed it. I believe that Disney wants to continue to reinforce what makes the Muppets unique from every other Disney property: The fact that they “live” in our world and are truly three dimensional (as opposed to all the animated characters). This restaurant fits that sentiment exactly.
But do not sell this latest incarnation of the Jim Henson empire short. There are many more Easter eggs to be found, so when you visit, be sure to leave time to tour the place. Arrive at the opening prior to the lunch rush for an opportunity to peruse and take pictures without interrupting other guests’ meals.
P.S. The potential for additional gags and guffaws is immense, but I hope if the good folks at Disney add any more they work a little more diligently than their way-finding department, which unfortunately has installed misspelled PizzaRizzo signs throughout the park.
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by Brian Sullivan