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Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe Review

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.

Atmosphere
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!

Bays at Cosmic Ray's

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).

Outdoor Seating

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.

    Outdoor Seating With Castle View

  • 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.

    Indoor Seating Around 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.

    Inside Tables

Eats
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!

Cosmic Ray's Toppings Bar

Utensils at the Topping Bar

Honey Mustard on Toppings Bar

Barbecue Sauce on Toppings Bar

Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

Hot Plastic-y Cheese

Pickles, Peppers, and Lettuce

General Condiments

Tomatoes and Relish

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.

Chicken and Ribs Meal at Cosmic Ray's

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.

Cosmic Ray's Bacon Double Cheeseburger with Fries

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.

Single Order of French Fries at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe

Chili Cheese Fries

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. :-(

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake Close Up

Overall
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!

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23 Comments

  1. Jen says:

    I love this place, always grab lunch here in Tomorrowland, Sonny Eclipse is great.

    I used to always get the chicken strips but when I went in 08 they had changed to nuggets, not quite as good IMO but ok all the same.

    I see they are no longer using Ken’s Honey Mustard! :O I loved that stuff lol.

  2. Jessica says:

    Cosmic Ray’s is our only WDW must-do…it’s not our vacation unless we eat there just once! There’s something for everybody, and I LOVE the rotisserie chicken!

  3. Kelly says:

    I’ve liked all the food I’ve gotten here. My only gripe is that for a family, if everyone wants something from a different bay, it can get complicated. When we go, we all usually wind up at different bays…but we’re all adults.

  4. Melissa says:

    Cosmic Ray’s is one of our favorites! My husband loves mushrooms so he enjoys getting plenty from the topping bar for his burger. My recent discovery there that I enjoy is the cheese steak sandwich. It’s MORE than enough food as it’s a pretty huge sandwich, and I really like it! I also love getting plenty of the hot cheese for my fries :)

  5. Julie says:

    We have to go to Ray’s or it’s just not a trip to Disney for us! My oldest son is into salads and Ray’s has a HUGE ceasar salad that could feed the whole crew! Great review, love the site. :)

  6. I just ate at Cosmic Rays again this past weekend and the variety is nice and fixins bar is great, I’d still rather eat at Pecos Bill because the bays make ordering different kind of foods just too annoying.

    Thanks for review on the foods. At some point, you should write an article about the homogenization of food at Disney World, as you can see from the burger that is basically the same at all the counter service locations.

  7. Anna says:

    We almost always end up at Cosmic Ray’s for Magic Kingdom lunches. The last time we were there I noticed lots of staff members “guarding” the dining room. I wonder if they have a problem with people bringing in food from outside and relaxing in Cosmic Ray’s air conditioned room.

  8. chris says:

    It’s far too early for a close up of that carrot cake, AJ. And you say fatty and greasy like it’s a bad thing. Bite your tongue, girl!

    As far as quick service places go, this is one of my favorites. I think their burger is pretty good, much better than Pecos Bills.

  9. Keith C (TheFugitiveGuy) says:

    Great review and pictures (even makes tubs of barbecue sauce look interesting) :)

    I agree that the variety is great at Cosmic Ray’s, but it’s just so difficult to order for a family with kids (unless everyone can agree on the same bay). Last time I was there, my wife and kids snagged a table, while I cycled through the lines at the different bays. I wish there was a way to get the variety without having to jump around!

  10. Sharla says:

    I like the food at Cosmic Ray’s, but it is difficult to order there because of the different bays. I wish one could order anything from any bay.

  11. Taryn says:

    I love Cosmic Ray’s! I actually think their burgers are very good. It is pretty much a staple in our visit to Magic Kingdom. The different bays can be difficult in ordering with a family but for some reason we end up picking the same bay to all eat from. Quick and good. Other quick counter places we go to there are Pecos Bills and Pinocchio Haus.

  12. Gaylin says:

    I like getting the chicken meal at Starlight Ray’s, dealing with food allergies is a pain so it is nice to walk up to a counter service and know what I get will be safe. I get applesauce for dessert and it is funny how often the cast member will look at me and say “Do you know it is unsweetened?”. Like applesauce needs sugar!

  13. jim says:

    I’m confident to say that the ribs and chicken meal is by far the best deal in all the parks for your dining credits in terms of sheer quantity. It’s a big cafeteria-ish but when you just want something quick and insanely filling, that’s the meal to get. My wife and I actually split one between the two of us so we don’t end up comatose!

  14. How cares about the food as long as Sonny Eclipse is playing? I love Cosmic Rays. The food is only okay, but the entertainment is out of this world :)

  15. Aaron says:

    this is my favorite place for lunch at the magic kingdom. my tip is about the toppings bar. this is the best free salad in WDW. a little lettuce, tomato, onion and you have a free small salad!!

  16. AJ says:

    Jen — What is UP with the nuggets instead of strips thing lately? I love WDW chicken strips, and I don’t care who knows it!

    Jessica — It really is a staple in the Magic Kingdom, isn’t it? Going there always feels like coming home.

    Kelly — Great point about the different bays being difficult with a family. That could take some time if the kiddos aren’t old enough to split up from Mom and Dad.

    Melissa — Thanks for the cheesesteak suggestion!! I’ll try that next time!

    Julie — How did you get a son who’s into salads?!? Teach me! ;-) Thanks for the kudos! Just checked out your blog — what a gorgeous bunch of kids and kittens!

    Matt — Good idea. It’s happening more and more often. That’s one thing we love about Disneyland — there’s a wider variety at the counter service spots across the parks. (Oddly, some of the table-service spots serve identical meals…)

    Anna — Ooh…controversy!! I haven’t visited during the summer in so long that I’ve never seen that happen. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s a serious problem…

    chris — Usually I’m all for fatty and greasy — especially when it comes to french fries, cheese, cake, etc… But with this chicken, the fat and grease didn’t actually add all that much flavor. Alas, I still ate it all ;-) What’s your thinking on the counter-service cheesecake?

    Keith — Again, this is a great point. The different bays really do sell a lot of different menu items (even different sides, etc.), so I can see how a fam could have a problem. Especially if the lines are long….UGH! I pretty much choose my food based on the shortest line… ;-)

    Sharla — Great minds think alike! Good idea to allow ordering anything from any Bay. Maybe they could still “specialize” in certain foods, but provide all of the menu items anyway…

    Taryn — Would love to hear your recommendations for Pinocchio Village Haus!

    Gaylin — Awesome point on the food allergy front! This is the perfect meal, eh? (The CM probably asks about the unsweetened thing because she’s had too many people come back and complain that it’s not sweet enough… and people come back and complain that it’s too sweet… and people come back just to complain… ;-) )

    Jim — Srsly! This is definitely one to split. We learned that the hard way!

    Aaron — I give you props for thinking about salads in WDW :-) Thanks for the comment!

  17. Janna says:

    We love Cosmic Ray’s! I agree that the chicken/rib combo is fantastic and is perfect for sharing.

    We really enjoyed eating here during MVMCP. Or maybe that was just the Christmas atmosphere at Disney aspect…lol

  18. Rachel says:

    My mom and I really enjoyed their pulled pork sandwich. It’s different than Flame Tree’s because the sauce is already mixed in to the sandwich. It was delicious! Also make sure you get their homemade potato chips. They were excellent! We probably could have bought another side of them and eaten them all. They were also great for scooping up stray barbeque!

  19. Kate says:

    We live cosmic rays. Especially our 13 year old who has a looooong list of allergies. Cosmic rays will make him a grilled chicken sandwich on a gluten free bun. They will also bake the fries so they aren’t contaminated and he has applesauce for dessert. He just lives being able to have a similar meal to evryone else which really doesn’t happen very often!!

  20. Jill says:

    I love Cosmic Rays, on our last trip Sunny Eclipse was touring other galaxies…during the refurb. Love having dinner and a show for one quick service credit! i heart yew nork!

  21. Mike says:

    without a doubt, the best points value meal in Disney, we had food left over! And plenty of air conditioned seating for late August.

  22. Valerie says:

    I was very surprised to see such good reviews for this restaurant, as the experience was just “eeh.” We came here for lunch on a very hot day in June and it was one of my least favorite places. As a matter of fact, if I weren’t a vegan, our next trip in June would definitely not be here (but because of the topping bar and the price I will). . I thought that the waitstaff was unfriendly, the food was greasy and it was very loud and unclean. Not my style of restaurant…

  23. Mike says:

    I was pretty unimpressed with Cosmic Ray’s. The variety is nice, but I felt like that was about the only thing this place had going for it. The food was ok at best. The crowd level and noise level were just too much for me. And all of that is reflected in the level of friendliness and service you get from the cast members. It’s so crazy, and they’re so stressed to keep things moving, that it was not a good experience for us.

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