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Could Muppet-themed PizzeRizzo be closing soon?

PizzeRizzo is the quick service restaurant that was recently rethemed from Pizza Planet to a Muppets eatery, but the food options remained essentially the same, small personal pizzas. The remodel added a lot more seating and took out the games and play area of Pizza Planet. This week online rumors that PizzeRizzo would be closing permanently soon began to grow.

With the remodel having happened so recently, I’m not sure how much faith I put in this rumor, but I do believe the location is struggling. It closes before dinner every day, was pretty much behind a construction wall for much of last year, and is in an area of the park that has no reason to visit other than MuppetVision. Plus if you look at the calendar, there are no hours for PizzeRizzo after October 27. That always gets people talking.

Update: Disney has confirmed that PizzeRizzo will be closing seasonally. With cuts to entertainment and dining happening across the parks, one wonders how big a slowdown Walt Disney World is forecasting ahead of the opening of Star Wars-land, after which all the crowds will presumably return.

Disney’s attempt to create a cohesive theme for the section of Disney’s Hollywood Studios under ‘Downtown Los Angeles’ street called Grand Avenue has some potential. But there’s not much tying it together right now other than street signs and window displays. The whole line of shops and restaurants from Backlot Express, Star Tours, Muppet Vision, and Mama Melrose’s feels pretty much abandoned.

That said, there has been some work in the area. Muppet Vision got a new facade, Stage 1 Company Store – the big store outside of Muppet Vision has been remodeled inside leaving it feeling more generic, and for all it’s menu problems, PizzeRizzo looks pretty nice.

So what’s going wrong. Besides the problems with foot traffic, which will all be solved when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens, we can look at the following:

  • The hours are a problem with PizzeRizzo often closing before dinner hours while right across Grand Ave, the new Baseline Taphouse is crazy busy.
  • The food. The personal pizza that is mostly bread with a little sauce and some uninspired toppings may have been what the public wanted five years ago. But you can get that on the other side of the park already (where it’s not very popular either). Today’s theme park audiences are looking for something more.

A solution isn’t that far away. It would be good if PizzeRizzo’s menu got an upgrade maybe added some other common street food options from NYC. You could easily layer in Gyros and some Thai food options. Changing the pizza model from personal pizza to a NY style giant slice joint might require more kitchen work, but it’s what they should have done originally.

Disney recently upgraded the menu at ABC Commissary which helped drive a lot more traffic to that location. They can do the same for PizzeRizzo.

The biggest fix will be to get more foot traffic in that part of the park after 4pm. This will be helped tremendously when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens as the main entrance is feet away from PizzeRizzo. But I’ve been a long believer that Grand Avenue needs a 2nd child friendly attraction. A spinner themed to the Muppets in the Muppet Courtyard would do the job, but so would anything unique and fun over in that plot of land beside Mama Melrose would serve as a draw. It’s also possible that Star Tours will get a new theme when the tunnel that will transport you to the planet Batuu open.

Is PizzeRizzo closing? Probably not. It’s likely going to seasonal operation until the crowds are back when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens. I hope there’s an upgraded menu when it reopens for regualr service or the closure might become more permanent.