Today, we’re heading to one of my favorite quick-service spots in Disney World – Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Tucked in between Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Cinderella Castle, Cosmic Ray’s has one of the biggest, most diverse menus of all Disney World quick-service locations.
Cosmic Ray’s is a giant, bright, semi-circular room situated around three food ordering “bays.” With each bay selling different types of food, be sure to check out the menus for all three before choosing your bay!
The theme is vintage space-age Tomorrowland, with lots of aquas and purples, trapezoids, and triangular furniture. There’s brushed chrome everywhere and signage in the same types of fonts you’d expect to find in early Space Mountain queue lines. Overall, if you loved the Jetsons and find the metal palm trees in Tomorrowland to be just about the coolest foliage ever — Cosmic Ray’s general decor will be ideal for you (and me).
Pragmatically, what you need to know is that once you order and receive your food, you’ll need to do two things: 1. Hit the condiments and toppings bars, and 2. Pick a place to sit. We’ll cover the toppings bars in our “eats” section below, but choosing a place to sit takes a bit more thought. Cosmic Ray’s offers the following experiences:
- Outdoor Seating: With views of Cinderella Castle, the hub, and Main Street, the outdoor seating at Cosmic Ray’s is coveted for both a nice, relaxing break from the park and Wishes viewing.
- Indoor Seating with Sonny Eclipse Entertainment: In the front of the restaurant you’ll find a sunken dining room with an interesting focal point — the entertainer Sonny Eclipse.
Sonny is an audio-animatronic, alien nightclub singer who will serenade you with his bluesy-jazzy, 50′s-esque hits like “Space Angel:”
Though the seating near Sonny might be a bit louder, it will definitely keep the attention of the kiddos (and, frankly, this place is loud no matter where you sit).
- Indoor Seating — no Sonny: There are other indoor, air conditioned areas to sit where you’re not being serenaded by an alien. These might be slightly quieter and less crowded as they’re a bit more out of the way from the ordering bays.
Like I said, Cosmic Ray’s offers a wide variety of dishes for everyone — including those following a vegetarian diet. With several sandwiches, wraps (including a vegetarian wrap), salads (with or without meat), soups, chicken dishes, ribs, burgers (including a veggie burger), and hot dogs, your whole family is bound to find something to fill their tummies here.
But before we hit the different Bays and menu items, I have to give a public service announcement about the Topping Bar. This glorious “freebie” offers anyone who wants to dress up their meal a great option to do so. All kinds of toppings, from sauteed mushrooms and onions to tomatoes, relish, pickles, sauces, and more are available on the free-with-purchase toppings bar. Of course, my favorite thing is the hot, melty cheese, but it’s good to know you can branch out!
As noted above, Bay 1 has chicken entrees and a rib meal, Bay 2 has burgers and hot dogs, and Bay 3 has sandwiches, salads, and soups. On our most recent visit, we ended up trying the bacon double cheeseburger, chili cheese fries, chicken and rib meal, regular fries, and carrot cake.
The entrees were actually much better than I expected them to be. The rotisserie chicken was a bit fatty and greasy, but the taste was good. The accompanying ribs actually were quite good, if a bit overdone, and the mashed potatoes and beans were pretty standard.
It’s not a meal I would pay top dollar for, but it does beat eating burgers and hot dogs every single day. As we noted in our best values for a quick-service credit blog post, this ribs and chicken meal is probably one of the best values for your credit on property.
The burger was pretty standard and possibly left a bit to be desired. The patties were dry and overcooked, but the bun, bacon, and cheese had good texture and taste. These are hit or miss in my opinion. I’d go for one of the other sandwiches — or even the chicken meal — over the burger.
The French Fries — both the single order and the chili-cheese order — hit the spot. While I love most Disney french fries, these are just what you’re looking for in a quick-service meal: crispy, salty, tasty. They remind me of Wendy’s fries…just crispier. Of course, when you add chili and hot, plastic-y cheese, they become even better.
Now, the true sour spot in the meal was the carrot cake. It was pretty awful. I hate to say I didn’t like it as I know it’s offered in many places around Disney World, but…I didn’t like it (and I consider myself a bit of a carrot cake addict). Essentially, it’s a spice cake with cream cheese frosting and a little frosting carrot on top. There are no raisins or walnuts in the cake to give it depth and texture. Overall, it’s springy and spongy instead of dense. Just plain boring.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe definitely gets my vote as one of the better counter-service locations in the Magic Kingdom — for sheer variety alone! It feels like many Magic Kingdom eateries have devolved to include only a few menu items versus a robust series of options. And while you can get many of the Cosmic Ray’s menu items in other parts of the Walt Disney World resort, the atmosphere — classic Tomorrowland — adds some great nostalgia to the whole experience.
What did you choose the last time you were at Cosmic Ray’s, and what do you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below!