50’s Prime Time Cafe Review at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

50’s Prime Time Cafe Review at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

It wasn’t until our 4th visit to Walt Disney World that we finally opened up a spot on our restaurant reservation dance card for 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios. We were skeptical, to say the least. Really, how good could diner food be? Why would we want comfort food when it’s 90 degrees in Florida? Sure, it’s a unique dining experience but without Disney characters or gourmet bites to woo us there why would we go? Then a spot opened up and we decided to give it a chance. Of course, we have a list of things to say that may sound bad, horrifying even ( but really we loved it…okay but only in small doses, well….just read on). This is what we found out.

If You Want A Nice Quiet Dinner, Eat Somewhere Else

It’s a Diner atmosphere. It’s crowded and noisy. You’re not getting luxury dining here. You may get yelled at and smashed together with other guests in the living room while you wait. They call you to the table like they would the family dog. Strangely- this is part of the charm. Call it questionable, call it upsetting, but actually, this is called immersion dining. IMMERSION. And yes, much like trying to learn Spanish by actually going to Spain, there will be lots of things you experience here that have nothing to do with food. It took us a minute to adjust and not be appalled. But then we get kinda picky even at only $15-35 bucks a plate. Yes, we’re snobby like that. 

Tune In Lounge at Hollywood Studios

50’s Prime Time Cafe Atmosphere

So, as we stood near “Mom’s” kitchen waiting to be seated ( for quite a long time) we definitely rethought this restaurant choice! It was crowded (like fire-code violation crowded) and the hosts walk around yelling for your family when it’s your turn to be seated. And not like at Liberty Tree Tavern, where when they call your name, you feel the first family, it was different than that.

At first, we wanted to leave. Coming from a big, loud, Italian family, we could just hang out at our actual mom’s house, and receive this type of atmosphere for free! On any holiday! But we stayed and waited. And waited. Luckily, this waiting period gives you time to look at all the tchotchkes on the wall. Assortments of copper bundt pans, African statues, sunburst clocks, and more. And frankly, these are all the things you probably saw at your grandmother’s house from the ’50s. And while they didn’t have a JFK ceramic plate hanging on the wall next to a portrait of Jesus Christ, like our actual grandmas… we expected to see such a display around any corner. 

As immersion experiences go, remember, Your experience here has nothing to do with the food. It depends on the awesomeness of your server. Our server, Christian, was amazing! He hung out at the table, chatted about his life in Pennsylvania, tried to get us to vacation with the family next to us, complained about his job, and fussed about having to clean up all of our mess. Just. Like. Moms.

50’s Prime Time Cafe Rules

Did you know the 50’s Prime Time Cafe comes with a set of rules, all guests must follow? “Just make sure you wash your hands, put your napkin in your lap and keep your elbows off the table, unless you want a stern talking-to from Uncle Fred”

It’s All About Family

You get additional family members as soon as you’re seated. If you’re timid around the other Disney guests, find someplace else to eat. Much like Biergarten, half the fun is about being forced into awkward conversations with people you don’t know. ( Another throwback to get-togethers at mom’s in the ’50s, minus the huge amount of bar cart alcohol at the ready.). While you don’t have to share a table with strangers as you do at Biergarten, you can end up sitting pretty close to your “cousins”.  

Don’t expect peace and quiet. Like not at all. If you have personal business to discuss, plan to fight with your husband or need to reel in your kids, now is not the time. (Or maybe it is?) Your business is everyone’s business. Much like moms if there is a new person around, expect to be hooked up and talked into vacationing together. If you’re looking for some dinner date romance or if you’re feeling smoochy, prepare to just get made fun of- like moms. If you’re here with a picky eater- expect everyone to make a big deal about it.  Just like at home.

A huge perk of this restaurant is that each table gets a little TV that you can watch while you eat. Old School shows like Mickey Mouse Club, and The Donna Reed Show play on mini televisions set up right at your table. While you can get immersed in the television, your new cousins and server will still all expect you to talk and share how your life’s been going. Just like at moms—whether you like it or not. 

Tune in Lounge Disney Adult Lounge at Hollywood Studios

50’s Prime Time Cafe Lounge

Of course if this whole experience becomes too much and you’re just looking for drinks, then you can head right over to the bar at Tune In Lounge. Adjacent to the check in counter at 50’s Prime Time, the towering televisions, and loads of alcohol give this spot away. Very small, you can expect to lean up against the bar, and wait to be served. Note, they NO LONGER serve any food here. So, unfortunately you cannot order anything from the restaurant, the milkshake or any other food at this counter. Check out the Tune In Lounge Menu for specialty cocktails. As a true bar, you can order pretty much anything you can think up. 

50's Prime Time Cafe Tune in Lounge Moms Living Room

50’s Prime Time Cafe Menu

Prime Time Cafe serves lunch and dinner and offers the same menu at each meal. Filled with classic foods that mom would make, you can eat for here for about $15-$35 dollars a plate. Plus, there’s a kid’s menu too. Mind you, there is only one plant based menu option here. And you don’t necessarily know what it is, much like the Blue Plate Special. Cousin Harold’s Vegetable Garden can be an array of anything plant based that the kitchen is serving up and the price remains a mystery until you order it. While this dish can be changed at anytime, the current Cousin Harold’s Vegetable Garden meals is kale, white beans, lentils, onion, tomatoes and a mushroom ragu, topped with tofu and a polenta cake. A very kitchen sink sort of vegan meal. Showstoppers on this menu include the Meatloaf, Pot Pie and Pot Roast

All in all this place has pretty decent food for the price, and if you can endure being immersed into the lives of all you encounter, you’ll probably go away pretty happy with your food options and feeling full. Check out the 50’s Prime Time Cafe Menu.

50’s Prime Time Cafe Desserts

The PB & J Milkshake is why people come here. Mind you, it’s not the only reason, but definitely a big one. While you can share your milkshake, you’ll regret it. Just make everyone order their own, they are that good and you will want it all for yourself.The only other place to get good milkshakes is at the Sci-Fi Drive-in, but mind you they don’t have the PB and J. 

Try the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layered Cake. While the PB & J milkshake is really the headliner here, we LOVED this cake and actually find it to be one of our favorite desserts in WDW. While it’s nothing fancy, it will bring you back to childhood memories of eating cake at your grandma’s house. Sugar layer and all. 

50’s Prime Time Cafe of Sci Fi Dine In?

While these two restaurants are nothing alike, people often try to pick between 50’s Prime Time Cafe and the Sci fi Dine In Restaurant. While 50’s Prime Time is an immersive dining experience where lots of interaction with your new family is part of the fun, Sci-fi Dine in, is completely different. Seated in a vintage car, you simply eat and watch horror film trailers from days of old, while you eat. Interaction with staff is pretty nonexistent. So, it’s really about what you’re in the mood for! Food at Sci-fi is your basic burgers and fries, and also milkshakes. Check out our Sci Fi Dine In Review to get a feeling for what it’s like! 

50’s Prime Time Cafe Review

While this immersion experience for us was completely unexpected, it was slightly more toned down than Whispering Canyon Cafe. It does however leave you feeling vulnerable just by walking in, so as long as you’re ready for that, and can handle some chummy questions from your waiter, newfound friends at the table next to you, some pretty yummy homemade food, and the super budget-friendly check, you will love it. It’s definitely an experience we would recommend everyone try at least once. Enjoy!

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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