Disclaimer: My family received complimentary tickets to see Big Hero 6 in 3D at the New Studio Movie Grill in University Mall on Monday. We were required, however, to pay for our own food and drinks. Given the timing, we opted to eat a full dinner, which for our family of three cost $45, including tax and tip. Although as a rule I do not pay to write reviews for businesses, I decided to share our experience with you anyway.
SMG With a Family Twist!
SMG offers TOONS! on the big screen. Families can check out popular children’s television and direct-to-DVD titles on the movie screen during this compact, hour-long movie experience for little ones. Toons play at select SMG locations every Friday-Sunday at 11 a.m. Tickets are only $2.
Also, every third Wednesday of the month SMG offers their Retro Family Series: Rewind featuring a favorite movie from childhood. Tickets are only $2, and they offer a $10 endless 1-topping pizza for this event.
We have been wanting to see Big Hero 6 since we saw previews for it at the last movie we watched in a theater. We also knew University Mall had a new dinner-and-a-movie theater that opened recently. When I received the offer from SMG to visit their facility and see Big Hero 6 in 3D, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out both. On Monday night, the three of us sallied forth … unsure of what to expect from this new theater, but excited to see this movie.
Welcome to the New Studio Movie Grill Tampa
Studio Movie Grill (SMG) is located on the second level of University Mall above Dillard’s. You can drive up to the second floor of the car park to enter the theater lobby directly, where we were greeted with a smile by one of three friendly and welcoming ticket sellers and invited to wait in the lounge until they were ready for us. The lounge is spacious, offering a bar as well as several loveseat and coffee table spaces, where we chose to wait with our daughter while others mingled.
A few minutes later, the woman who greeted us walked over to let us know we could head to the theater, and pointed us in the right direction. Along the way, several staff people– and by several I mean every staff person we passed – welcomed us, which definitely kicked-off our evening on a positive note.
Classic Cheeseburger with Tortilla Chips
It was also nice that our first step was not heading into a line at the concession stand! Once seated in the theater, we were offered menus that we looked over from the comfort of our seats, which offered ample leg room (because the aisles need to be wide enough for servers to negotiate as well) and tabletops. Because of the timing of the movie, we opted for dinner rather than just our usual popcorn.
My husband ordered the pulled pork sliders, I had the classic cheeseburger with a side of tortilla chips (fries or sweet potato fries were also an option), and our daughter had the kids cheese pizza and a chocolate milkshake. We were all happily surprised that the food was very tasty! Really, the food was … GOOD!
Our daughter ate her entire cheese pizza, and finished the milkshake, which is unusual for her! And my husband and I ate all of our meals as well. Having dinner, however, did make our family movie outing more expensive than we are accustomed to. The next time we go, we will choose an earlier movie ($7/adult matinee, $6/child 10 and under) and and have our usual theater popcorn ($5/regular, $7/large) and drinks ($2-$3.50), which would make the cost comparable to seeing a movie at a standard theater. (Note: The theater does have a service charge, so you will want to purchase at least a drink.)
The best part about SMG for me is that I don’t have to walk miles down a hallway and squeeze into a narrow seat past several people with an armload of popcorn and drinks! Everything is brought to you in your seat. And if you should need anything, just push the red button to call for assistance. In fact, we had the opportunity (to my daughter’s delight) to push that button once to check on our missing iced teas. Although our evening was not without a couple problems, they were minor and fixed promptly and courteously, and we have no complaints.
The best part about our experience for our daughter was that even without theater-style seating, she would see the movie just fine – no head in her way. The reason? The screen is placed higher than in other theaters, so no matter how short you are, you get a perfect, unobstructed view of the screen. You can’t get better than that for a 4-foot-tall kid!
And the best part for my husband was that the theater itself was small and more comfortable than usual theaters. There were fewer rows of seats, and every seat looked like a good seat.
So, Will We Go to SMG Again?
Yes. We had a great time out as a family, all of the staff were extremely nice and strove to be helpful, the food was surprisingly good, and the environment was clean, comfortable and relaxing! In my book, that’s a win!
Toons! and Retro Family Series: Rewind Logo images courtesy of Studio Movie Grill.
Photos © 2014 Nicole Doyle / What’s Doing? Tampa Bay.