50s Prime Time Cafe – Disney Dining Review

Imagine walking into your Mom’s kitchen back in the 1950s.  You’re probably being told to set the table, while the smell of Mom’s pot roast swirls around you.  Dad may be sitting in his chair in the living room, watching Father Knows Best on the black and white TV.  Then Mom yells, “Kids, come and eat!”, and the family gathers around the laminate topped table with the chrome chairs to dig in to the delicious meal Mom has slaved over all day.  This is the same thing you’ll experience at 50s Prime Time Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Entrance to 50s Prime Time Cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Entrance to 50s Prime Time Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Whether you enter into the lounge area – where you’ll find a full bar and some retro furniture to relax in while you wait for your table – or through the main entrance, you are transported to that era when life was as simple, families ate dinner together, and the food was made with love and home in mind.  All the servers here are your relatives, and you’ll find some are like the mean older sister, bossing you around, telling you to set the table; others are the helpful younger brother, reminding you to keep your elbows off the table so you don’t get in trouble with Mom.

Dining room, featuring black and white TV
Dining room, featuring black and white TV

The menu is heavy on American comfort food favorites.  A tender and delicious pot roast, swimming in a gravy with carrots and celery, accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes; a crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside homestyle fried chicken; even meatloaf the way you remember it – sliced thick, covered with gravy, and with a healthy helping of mashed potatoes on the side.  This is not gourmet cuisine, it’s comfort cuisine, and it’s done absolutely perfectly.

Mom's Pot Roast
Mom’s Pot Roast

Menu favorites include the peanut butter and jelly milkshake – a creamy and cold blend of your two favorite childhood flavors, served in an old fashioned milkshake glass with the extra on the side.  Beer battered onion rings are a crispy and delicious throw back to 50s diner food, and a great way to start your meal.  And if you can’t choose among the flashback entree favorites, try the sample platter that gives you a taste of the meatloaf, fried chicken, and pot roast.  There is even a daily blue plate special that can offer a delicious menu alternative to the traditional favorites.

Meatloaf
Meatloaf

This is a must do meal for our family each time we visit Walt Disney World.  They do accept the Disney Dining Plan, and your meal here is one table service entitlement.  The restaurant also participates with Tables in Wonderland.

Daily Blue Plate Special of shrimp and grits
Daily Blue Plate Special of shrimp and grits

 

50s Prime Time Cafe – Restaurant Review

Day 4 6

Back in the day when Brighid was little, 50s Prime Time Cafe was the place to go for really delicious, homestyle comfort foods.  But more than that, it was the place to go for an experience like no other – where you became part of the “family” dining at Mom’s table – complete with Mom yelling at you and making you stand in the corner if you talked back.  Or didn’t eat your veggies.  Or you put your elbows on the table.  And if you did manage to make it through your vegetables, Mom – or a cousin – would hand you a ViewMaster dessert menu, taking you right back to your childhood (or your mother’s childhood) while you perused options for your sweet reward for suffering through the green beans.

On our recent visit, we were pleased to see the menu with which we have become so familiar.  Mom’s pot roast – a table favorite – it perfectly tender, shredded into delicious gravy covered bites, and served with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies you totally don’t mind eating, because they are so perfectly cooked and flavorful.

Cousin Ann’s meatloaf, although flavorful and delicious, was a bit on the dry side.  Nothing a few squirts of ketchup didn’t cure, but the ketchup then overpowered the yummy glaze.  Served on a bed of the garlic mashed potatoes, it’s about as close to Mom made as you’ll find.

Prime Time Meatloaf

Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken won tremendous praise at our table.  Golden and crisp, the chicken had the perfect crunch without an abundance of grease (take that, Colonel Sanders).  There were those garlic mashed potatoes again, and sweet corn, adding a comfort-ful side dish to an already homey plate.

Prime Time Fried ChickenThe one health conscious person at our table ordered the chicken Caesar salad, and claimed it delicious.  And really, in these days of diets and fad food trends, is there anything more classic than the chicken Caesar?  It has become almost as comforting as pot roast and meatloaf.

What our experience lacked was the fun factor.  I’ve heard before that they no longer use the ViewMasters for dessert due to health concerns, with the toys being so close to so many eyes.  I guess I get that.  But even the interaction with the servers has been greatly curtailed over the years.  Our waiter, Cousin Richard, was nothing more than a sarcastic, bitter, hating his job type of guy who couldn’t wait to be done taking our order and moving on.  And while Richard was one of the worst we’ve had in a while, there is no more real home atmosphere, where mom is yelling at you for something and someone is getting in trouble.  I was told by one server that people didn’t like being told to stand in a corner, so they scaled back that type of interaction, but it was a huge part of the fun of the experience.

Would I recommend this restaurant?  Highly.  It’s still great fun to see and be transported to the 1950s.  The food is still very good overall.  The peanut butter and jelly milkshake is still one of the best milkshakes – anywhere.  But I would tell folks who were there a long time ago to curb their expectations.  What used to be good food and great fun is now great food and good fun.  It’s still a must do for my family.