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 its 90 degrees in Florida? Sure, it’s a unique dining experience but without Disney characters to woo us there why would we go? Then a spot opened up and we decided to give it a chance. This is what we found out.
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)
It’s a Diner atmosphere. It’s crowded and noisy. You’re not getting high quality customer service 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 15-30 bucks a plate.
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 its your turn to be seated. 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!
But we stayed and waited. And waited.
Luckily, this waiting period gives you time to look at all the tchatchkes on the wall– copper bundt pans, African statues, sunburst clocks; things you probably saw at your grandmothers house from the 50’s.
You get additional family members as soon as your 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 50’s). While you don’t have to share a table with strangers like you do at Biergarten, you can end up sitting pretty close to your “cousins”. Your server hangs out at your table, sits down next to you, chats about everything and anything and acts like every crazy uncle/aunt/friend of the family you ever knew.
Old School shows like Mickey Mouse Club, and The Donna Reed Show play on mini televisions set up right 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.
Your experience here has nothing to do with the food. It depends on the awesome-ness of your server. Our server, Christian, was amazing! He hung out at the table, chatted about his life, complained about his job and fussed about having to clean up all of our mess— just like moms.
The Vegetable Lasagna doesn’t have meat in it. Apparently this is confusing for some people and a running joke among the servers. It’s “vegetable lasagna” folks- not meat lasagna. This dish is the main vegetarian dish on the menu and very very good. But if you need meat- don’t worry, almost everything else on the menu has meat.
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.
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. Note- you can also grab this and many other menu items at the Tune-In Lounge which is sorta like the quick service arm of this restaurant. Just go in the door that says tune in lounge and head for the bar. That’s where you’ll order.
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 its nothing fancy, it will bring you back to childhood memories of eating cake at your grandma’s house. Sugar layer and all. Of course the Oooey Gooey Toffee Cake is also pretty great, but that’s at another restaurant.
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. 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.
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, new found 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!