Going Retro at 50’s Prime Time Cafe

by on December 9, 2011 17 Comments

Filed under: Dining

Growing up in my house in the early 90’s was more like living in the 50’s. We took family vacations to car shows to show off our ’55 Chevy Bel Aire. I watched old American Bandstand performances on a VHS tape (okay, so that’s 90’s) and fawned over Buddy Holly and Sam Cooke. Getting into my mom’s old records was a daily happening that I’d typically get in trouble for. In the evenings, my mom would be working hard in the kitchen preparing supper for my dad and as soon as he got home it was dinnertime. My dad was a truck driver and a real “meat and potatoes” kind of guy. I didn’t grow up knowing what fancy food was. We had a lot of traditional American food like fried chicken, steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

Now that I’m all grown up and out of my mom’s house, I kind of miss the food from my childhood. Luckily for me, there’s a restaurant right in Walt Disney World that brings some of the most popular family meals from yesteryear right onto my plate. 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a big hit among families because of the relaxed atmosphere and comical role playing with the waitstaff that you’ll encounter.

Recently, I made a dinner reservation well ahead of time for my party of four: my husband and I, and our friends Ben and Barbara. We checked in a little early, and I made sure to ask for a T.V. table since it was Ben and Barbara’s first visit and I wanted it to be really memorable. The friendly greeter told us it would be about twenty minutes. No big deal for us. Barbara got a glowing drink from the bar, and we hung out for a while in the “living room.” All the detail that goes into the theming is remarkable.

Cousin Lorraine, our killer waitress, introduced herself to us and got our drink orders. Matt, my husband, got a chocolate shake, while Barbara and I excitedly ordered a peanut butter and jelly shake. It sounds weird, but it’s truly delicious. Ben went all retro on us and got a sarsaparilla. Oh, I’m sorry. We’re calling it root beer now.

We had a blast sitting there watching the old television shows play on the Disney branded T.V. Our entrees were ordered within no time, and soon enough they were piping hot in front of us.

First up, I got the fish of the day. I’d never heard of wahoo before, but Lorraine said it was good so I went with it. My immediate reaction was that it looked a little dry. It even tasted a little dry but not too bad. The fish was really similar to swordfish. It came with asparagus, red potatoes, and a puree that I really adored pairing with the wahoo. The asparagus ends weren’t cut off enough so I took the tough pieces and hid them… in my leftover milkshake. I just couldn’t disappoint Lorraine! Don’t judge me!

My husband is really easy to please. All he wanted was a veggie burger and fries. It was a pretty standard veggie burger with nothing special about it. That didn’t seem to phase Matt, though, because he devoured it like it was the last generic veggie burger on the planet.

Miss Barbara ordered the meatloaf plate with mashed potatoes and veggies. She really liked it but found it to be a lot of food for her to finish. As the rest of us cleared our plates, she felt the pressure and told us, “I want Lorraine to be proud of me too!” It’s safe to say she left there insanely full.

Ben wanted to try a little bit of everything, so he got the sampler. While Ben said that he liked everything on his plate, the fried chicken was the winner. It was definitely a lot of food, and I’m surprised he finished everything on his plate!

Lorraine noticed our perfectly clean plates (and didn’t notice the asparagus in my milkshake cup), so she gave us stickers and inducted us into the Clean Plate Club. We wore these stickers proudly the rest of the night. Only, mine got stuck to my poncho later, and I couldn’t get it off. I was a proud member of the Clean Plate Club for the rest of the week.

Dessert was impressive. We missed the cute ViewMaster to choose our dessert from, but since the dessert was so delicious, it kind of made up for it. We were so full that we didn’t eat much of our desserts. I tried the s’mores and absolutely loved it. Matt got the sundae with everything imaginable on it…even caramel corn. Ben went light with his choice of the cheesecake. Barbara also ordered the s’mores, only hers came with a lit candle and an awesome birthday song from Lorraine. Did I mention yet that we loved Lorraine? Okay, good…because we did.

We gave the entire meal experience an A+. Sometimes 50’s Prime Time Cafe is hit or miss depending on your server and the quality of food. We’re so glad we got to enjoy a meal there because it ended up being one of our favorites of the entire trip! Have any of you been to 50’s Prime Time Cafe recently? Any of you interested in giving it a try? Leave us a note in the comments!

Posted on December 9, 2011

17 Responses to “Going Retro at 50’s Prime Time Cafe”

  • I absolutely love the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. We always have a blast there and some of the waitresses/waiters are better than others but all are good. One memorable event was when I took my 7 year old granddaughter for her first Disney trip. When we were seated, (we had a waiter) and he asked for our drink order and my granddaughter proceeded to comment that she was starving and wanted some fries and he immediately threw down all his menus and announced to everyone in our section that she was hungry and he ran to the kitchen and got her fries. She was laughing so hard and she gave the waiter a hard time the rest of the meal. It was so much fun and she will never forget it. The food is ok and the atmosphere is great; well worth the cost.

    • We have memories at 50’s Prime Time Cafe that we’ll never forget as well and I think that’s what makes us keep coming back. Like you said, some experiences are more memorable than others. So glad that you have something great to look back on!

  • I had heard 50s Prime Time Cafe was not a place to miss. We were there on Dec 5 and have to say I was very disappointed. The wait staff that day must have been tired because it was very lackluster. It was also my birthday…not even a happy birthday from our waitress and hardly any interaction about minding manners, cleaning plates etc.

    • Oh no! I think they most definitely should have done something for your birthday. Being one of the most entertaining restaurants in Walt Disney World, they have high standards to live up to. It sounds as though they failed with your experience.

  • we had quite the opposite experience there. 50’s prime Time cafe was one place that I was excited to go to during my family’s first Disney trip. We mad our advance dinner reservation in May for our October trip. We decided to go there for lunch, and waited for about 40 minutes (ith four children) for our table..waisting precious park time. once we were seated, one of my kids had to use the restroom. While he was in there with my husband the waitress came to our table to take our order. I knew going in that the waitress was supposed to be a bit gruff so, I was expecting it. I gave her our dining card and she came back and told me that we had no more table service meals on it. I was confused..and she seemed thoroughly annoyed with me. I told her no problem, I would just pay for that meal and figure out what happened later. My husband returned with my son and we were ordering.. My son wanted grilled cheese…but did not want a platter because it came with chicken noodle soup (which he wouldn’t eat). The waitress started to argue with us about getting this platter. She barely interacted with us the entire time…but was having a great time with the family sitting next to us. I honestly don’t know what we did…our kids were not acting up, instead of wasting her time trying to figure out our dining plan debacle I quickly told her not to worry about it and we paid cash for our meal.I found her to be the RUDEST waitress I have ever had..and I know the way she treated us was not part of her act..because I saw her acting the way I had expected going in to this restaurant with the family next to us. Needless to say, this was our most disappointing dining experience during our trip to Disney…we will never go back to that restaurant nor will we recommend it to any of our friends.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your incredibly bad experience. They are few and far between at Walt Disney World and you seemed to just have gotten the worst luck that day. Hopefully with some more positive reviews you’ll feel confident enough to give it a shot again someday.

  • I made ADR’s for 50’s prime time in January for our trip in April 2011. We were going for my daughter’s 18th birthday. There were 7 of us…daughter, me (mom), grandma, aunt, 2 (girl) cousins and daughter’s best friend. I don’t remember our waitress’ name, but I have pics and could figure it out. We had no wait and were immediately seated when we arrived. Grandma wanted hot dogs, but they were on the kids menu…no problem, Grandma got her hot dogs. We were surprised with how much food we got for lunch. But everyone managed to eat everything and got our Clean Plate stickers. Since crayons are supplied for the kids, my daughter drew a picture. She gave it to our waitress who hunted down some tape so she could put it on the wall. Even though we didn’t order dessert, a small sundae was brought out for my daughter. With our waitress leading, our entire area sang Happy Birthday. Would definitely go back and recommend it. Sorry for people who have not had a good experience, please give it another try.

    • I’ve never seen them put pictures up on the wall! That’s so cool! 50’s Prime Time Cafe is one restaurant that seems to play up special occasions. On my honeymoon, our amazing waitress made my husband and I stand in front of the entire restaurant and feed cupcakes to each other. It was a riot!

  • We’ve been there 5 times, over the past years, and found it to be hit or miss. We’ve had 2 excellent interactions, one dreadful one, and the other 2 were only fair. I think it may hve something to do with both the crowd level, and the time of day. As I recall, the better meals were early-ish in what I’m guessing to be shift time. One of the poorer ones was on a -very- busy day, with several large parties seated near us.
    The best, was on a trip when we decided to drop in on a whim, and got a table with ‘Aunt Debbie’. We got scolded, with the foot-tapping and folded arms for not setting the table; the approval, for eating everything, and when we asked for just one order of s’mores, she shook her head, and mutterd something about “…one ? I’m leaving before there’s bloodshed…”
    The worst experience, we had not only poor food (cold, and not entirely what we had ordered) but the service was some of the worse that I’ve ever seen in a restaurant – not just at WDW, but ANY restaurant. There was NO interaction, even though we tried to get it started One of the ‘Aunts’ tried to dress it up by telling us that ‘Uncle Joe’ was a bit deaf, and we agreed.
    We don’t make it a must-do, anymore, but we’d gladly go back if it fits into our plans.
    It also helps, I think, to play up when you arrive and check in: “Hi, Mom, What’s for dinner ?, I’m starved.” We’ve done that, and ended up in a section with pretty good interaction.

    • You make a great point. I’m not sure if during check-in they make notes on your ticket as to if your party looks like they’ll enjoy the “fun” interaction or not. 50’s Prime Time Cafe isn’t the most consistent restaurant food and service wise and that’s disappointing to me because the atmosphere is so unique.

  • I love 50’s PTC. It’s especially a must do for me when I am traveling with first timers. I also love it because it’s a relatively inexpensive table service option. At lunch the chicken sandwich, the caesar salad, etc are ample in size and cost only a few dollars more than their quick service counterparts.

  • We had a great waiter and thought 50’s Prime Time was a neat experience but the food was subpar. Not as bad as the SciFi Diner but pretty poor. I was glad to have the experience but for us, it’s all about the food.

    • I like how people rank restaurants at the Studios by putting them up against Sci-Fi Diner. I wholeheartedly agree, though. I think I overlook the fact that the food is only okay at 50’s Prime Time Cafe in general because I like the atmosphere and playful skit.

  • We tried 50’s Prime Time last July and were pretty disappointed with an experience much like Megin’s above. Waited a long time after our ADR- thought about leaving, but our girls 10 & 16 had really been looking forward to it. Once seated they longingly watched as some other tables got ketchup mickeys to discourage elbow resting, kids bringing plates to the kitchen, “potato sack” races etc. The table behind us were having a ball with our server but she just wouldn’t do any of it at our table- we were nice and friendly and laughed at the antics around us- the kids tried putting their elbows up and not eating their veggies… nothing. She was polite and efficient- but that’s it. It was as if she didn’t think we wanted the act? Our food was pretty good and my husband & kids want to try again to see if asking for a server who’s “into the role” helps. We’ll see this Aug.

    • We’ve had this experience once before and it bothered me too. I’m not shy and no one in my family is. I came for a show! Like I said, it seems to be hit and miss with servers. I’m curious how they determine if they’re gonna play it up with a family or not.

  • I love that they bring all these good events to Tucson.