the disney food blog Rotating Header Image

Review: 50s Prime Time Cafe

Let’s go back in time to the 1950s when TV was the latest technology and food was simple and delicious. Meatloaf, fried chicken, pot roast — you can’t go wrong!

Over at 50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, get ready for a fun, interactive meal in Mom’s kitchen. That’s right — the whole place is decorated like a kitchen straight out of the 1950s, including accessories, decorations, calendars, and even those old black-and-white TVs!

But make sure you eat all your veggies and keep your elbows off the table… you never know when Mom’s watching!

Atmosphere

When you walk into 50s Prime Time Cafe, you’ll find yourself right in between Dad’s Living Room and Mom’s Kitchen. Dad’s Living Room is the waiting area for the restaurant, while Mom’s Kitchen is the main dining room. Here’s a tip: When you check in, ask for a TV table. While they can’t guarantee it, cross your fingers — you’ll see why later!

Hopefully you’ll have a bit of time to explore Dad’s Living Room while you wait for your table. Everything in the room(s), from the wallpaper to the knick knacks to the furniture, is vintage and fabulous.

One of Dad's Living Rooms

To your right, and directly ahead of you, is the Tune-In Lounge. This is where Dad’s liquor cabinet can be found, and the bar also serves meals should you not be able to get a reservation at the restaurant.

Full Bar at Tune In Lounge

Pretty soon, your name will be called for seating. This is one of my favorite parts of the meal as the servers call out your last name along with the word “kids” after it as though they’re calling you to come in from dinner after a long afternoon of playing outside: “Mom’s got dinner ready for the Wolfe kids! Wolfe kids — time for dinner!” I’m easily amused.

Anyway, as you pass by the refrigerator and head into the main dining room, see if any other “kids” have left mom a message!

Refrigerator Message

Keep your eyes wide open in the dining room as there’s so much to take in! 50s Prime Time Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants in Disney World for this reason — the themeing is absolutely outstanding. I can only imagine how many thrift shops and garage sales were turned upside-down in the hunt for many of these classic items. How many of these do you remember from your kitchen when you were a kid?

One of the 50s Prime Time Cafe Dining Rooms

50s Prime Time Cafe Decor

And remember when I said to ask for a TV table? Here’s why! What better way to eat your lunch or dinner than while watching some of the best TV ever made?!?

TV Table

Family Seated at TV Table

Dick van Dyke, Donna Reed, Topper, Car 54 Where Are You?, Dennis the Menace, The Mickey Mouse Club, I Married Joan…sigh. There are even little “public service announcements” for the teenagers giving them great tips on 1950′s dating! Where else in Disney World are you going to get that?!

But don’t spend too much time staring! It’s time to meet your server, who just happens to be your cousin, Aunt, or Uncle! Because you’re eating in Mom’s kitchen, it made sense to Disney to have a family member serve you. Of course, the server isn’t your real family member, but it’s fun to play along. If you ask, they might even have a family album to show you!

Now, if you’re headed to 50s Prime Time Cafe for the first time, here’s a an important bit of information to understand: the servers are instructed to banter with the guests and treat them as though they’re kids eating at Mom’s kitchen table. That means no elbows on the table, no chewing with your mouth open, and no skimping on those veggies! If your caught, several things could potentially happen:

  • You could find yourself standing in the corner
  • You could be made to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” in front of the whole restaurant
  • You could find your server making airplane noises, armed with a fork full of green beans headed for your mouth

Here’s an example of what you might expect:

I’m sure they’ve thought up a few other punishments, but just be wary! (By the way, if you’re not interested in the antics, just let your server know at the beginning that you’d rather just watch the fun rather than be a part of it.)

Eats

The menu here is short and simple. Mom and Dad’s favorites are here — meatloaf, fried chicken, pot roast, and chicken pot pie are the staples — along with a few extras to spice it up.

Click for Larger Image

My favorite appetizer, sadly, was dropped off of the menu a couple of years ago (a fried boursin cheese — delicious), so these days I stick with the onion rings. These are thick and greasy — just they way they should be. Also, the chicken noodle soup is some of the best in Disney World here; definitely worth a try if you’ve got a soup fan at the table.

Onion Rings

On this recent trip, I added a margarita to the appetizer mix along with a PB&J milkshake, a guest favorite at 50s Prime Time Cafe. The margarita was pretty plain. If you’re going to order from Dad’s Liquor Cabinet, consider trying one of the mixed drinks on the menu.

Margarita

The PB&J shake was great, but there wasn’t much J to it. I tasted a lot of vanilla and a lot of PB, though, so if you’re a peanut butter lover, this shake is for you! I’m pretty addicted to the chocolate malt shakes at 50s Prime Time Cafe, though, so I think I’ll stick with that next time.

PB and J Milkshake

Milkshake Close Up

Now, didja catch that viewfinder sitting next to the shake? That’s the dessert menu at 50s Prime Time Cafe! Just another great addition to the fun themeing at the restaurant, and another reason why I love this place so much.

After the apps, we launched into our favorite entrees here: Aunt Liz’s Fried Chicken and Mom’s Old-Fashioned Pot Roast. The fried chicken is wonderful here. While it probably won’t be a great substitute for your Mom’s or grandma’s recipe, it’s still quite good, and I’ve never heard anyone say differently. The mashed potatoes here are “so-so.” They won’t be winning any DFB Choice Awards anytime soon, but they’re edible ;-) The generous portion is served with southern greens, but I always ask for green beans instead for fear I’ll end up in the corner if I don’t finish my greens!

Aunt Liz's Fried chicken

The pot roast here doesn’t quite match up to the version at Liberty Tree Tavern, but it still garners a thumbs up and is well worth the order.

Mom's Pot Roast

Moving on to dessert, I was very excited to try a new Boston Cream Pie cupcake I’d been hearing about. But, alas, it had been taken off the menu just a few weeks prior to our visit. It had been replaced with a 50s Boston Cream Parfait — layers of vanilla cream (really more of a custard), chocolate fudge, and pound cake. Let’s just say this wasn’t an appealing substitute for the cupcake from what I’d heard. While I took a few bites of the parfait, I didn’t get much further than that. Instead, I battled my husband for his dessert, which was much better.

Boston Cream Parfait

Close Up of Boston Cream Parfait

The seasonal cobbler was apple, and whenever there’s an apple cobbler out there we order it! This one didn’t pass my numero uno apple cobbler test (the apples were canned and not fresh), but the cobbler/granola was good, and the ice cream was plentiful and delicious.

Apple Cobbler

All in all the desserts were pretty much a dud this time around (definitely should have gone for that chocolate malt shake and Dad’s Brownie Sundae or the S’mores). We’ll know better next time. From previous trips, I can highly recommend Dad’s Brownie Sundae.

Overall

I’m a sucker for 50s Prime Time Cafe. I think the themeing is phenomenal, the service is great, and I love the fun interaction between servers and guests. The food isn’t 5-star, but I just love that fried chicken, and as long as it’s there, I’ll be one happy guest. ;-)

Do you have a favorite meal or a fun story from 50s Prime Time Cafe? Are you planning to visit soon? Let us know in the comments section below!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

36 Comments

  1. Janna says:

    Prime Time is one of our faves, too. My favorite meal is the meatloaf (with extra gravy, of course).

    Oh, how I miss the fried Boursin here! My mom and I loved sharing that appetizer.

    My favorite memory involves my mom. The running joke is that whenever she is away from home (I live in NC, she lives in AL), my younger sister called her non-stop. I got tired of it and decided that Mom had to pay me $10 for every call she took from my sister. My sister called while we were in PT and the server gave my mom heck because she wouldn’t get off of the phone!!! She announced to the entire restaurant that my mom was grounded from her phone. We teased her about it for the rest of the trip.

  2. Pudge the Fish says:

    Prime Time has been a favorite restaurant of mine for over 15 years. It is a restaurant that I have always referred to family and friends on their first Disney vacation because it is the epitome of Disney theming. While the food is “Cracker Barrel” quality good, the theme and childhood memories of aunts and uncles homes that looked exactly like that puts it over the top for me.

    My last visit was April 2010. I had a 530pm ADR and when I arrived at the podium the lobby and waiting room were empty!!! It made me wonder if the restaurant has lost some of its appeal or if it was just a sign of the economy. In either case, we had another memorable meal, and like Janna it was a result of a cell phone conversation. The waitress caught my father in law on his phone and proceeded to rib him for the entire meal about his new fangled “walkie talkie” (it is the 1950′s in there after all.) My toddler still talks about that meal.

  3. Mandy Jansen says:

    I was just at the 50s Prime Time Cafe this past week. They offered a special, which was an entree that included a tasting plate of fried chicken, meatloaf, and pot roast (plus the sides that come with each entree — the veggies and the mashed potatoes). I think the price was $19.99, but I don’t remember because I was on the dining plan. It was very fun to get to try all of these dishes. My favorite was the pot roast. (I agree with the sentiment that the food is “Cracker Barrel” quality good.) There was no way that I could eat all of that food, but I appreciated not having to make a choice about which dish to order.

    Our server said that their chef has been experimenting with the desserts, which is why they changed from the Boston cream pie cupcake to the parfait. She prefers the parfait over the cupcake that you missed.

    I went at lunch time. It was crowded, but they sat us at our (two top) table immediately even though we arrived 15 minutes early. They must have just had a two top open up?

    I was a touch nervous about going to this restaurant with the servers in character, because I was tired and not sure I was in the mood, but our server was into it enough and chill about it enough that I felt comfortable.

    I went with my mom who was a young child in the 1950s, and she very much enjoyed the theme of the restaurant. She kept talking about all of the details she noticed.

  4. Sarah says:

    I’ve only been there once, when I was 10 or 11. My (then only) sister was around 3, and refused to eat her veggies. A CM was clearing the table next to us and told her she had to eat her veggies, to which she replied, “No way, Jose!” Needless to say, and unbeknownst to her, his name actually WAS Jose… We all cracked up, and she then hid under the table for the rest of the meal. Well, until it was time for dessert at least!

    Personally, I’m not a fan of being part of the antics, but knowing you can request to just watch, I’d be more apt to return. Or just sit at the Tune-In Lounge and dine there! ;)

  5. Greg says:

    The 50′s is our only must-do meal every trip. So much fun!

  6. I’m still a fan of Prime Time after all these years. I think the entrees are quite good and they also have some great desserts (I’m less a fan of their appetizers these days). But the theme and good food really make Prime Time a winner.

  7. Kelly says:

    I love Prime Time. We took my Grandmother once and our server decided that she looked like his Grandmother and took to calling her “Grandma Paprocki” throughout the meal. It really made our meal special and my Grandmother just loved all the attention.

    My Aunt & Uncle’s house hasn’t been updated since the 50s, so we always laugh walking into Prime Time & joke that if they ever need replacements for anything we know exactly where to find them!! It’s hilarious. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Prime Time!!

  8. carolyn says:

    First time I went and there was a lot of fun interaction going around us. We were left alone, sis/me, but it left quite the impression on my sister that the first place she chose when picking out ADR’s for our up-coming trip was this restaurant! The second time I went, I was with kids and I hate to have to say, it was not a memorable experience. The wait-staff weren’t engaging and it was a “dud” experience. Love the theme though and I hope we have a fun time a week from tomorrow (exactly! Woah!) when we are dining there. I plan on getting the PB&J milkshake. :)

  9. Brandi says:

    We loved the 50′s Prime Time Cafe in June! It has great theming and I especially loved when they called us to the table by our last name (the Foster Family). The fried chicken was good and dessert was even better. This is definitely a must do for our return trip. Thanks so much for a great review!

  10. Alan says:

    I have always thought this was a great place for ‘home” cooking and a lot of fun to get into the act if you enjoy being involved. In our non Disney dining you just never get to be part of a little story. It is sort of like being in an improv class.

    However, the reason we have not been there in a while is that almost all of the items on the menu are things that we cook at home pretty regularly. When I eat out I want to try new things or old favorites that are complicated or with hard to find ingredients. But this is one of the restaurants that really says Disney.

  11. Laurel says:

    We went in November after hearing how fun it was and how awesome the food was. I was really disappointed. The server, while very friendly, didn’t do any of the funny things I’d read about and we didn’t get the viewmaster to pick our dessert from. We had to wait what felt like forever for our food. I’d read wonderful things about the roast beef, but thought it was just average. The chocolate malt was the highlight of the lunch. I don’t think we’ll be going back.

  12. I am such a sucker for Prime Time Cafe as well. Although I wasn’t around in the 50′s I love nostalgia and all things vintage. The theming, service and food make it to be one of the most fun dining options in Hollywood Studios, and maybe in Disney World. We love Uncle Dave and always request…I have been personally mortified by him and that made my meal. This is not a signature restaurant by any means, and I think should be taken for what it is. The food is just good ol’ down home cooking. We go there for the atmosphere and fun.

    Now I can’t stop thinking of one of my favorite WDW snacks…the PB & J milkshake.

  13. Xtine says:

    One of the best bars in Disney!

  14. Nancy says:

    The meatloaf there is WONDERFUL! The recipe can be found in one of the cookbooks that they sell in the parks. I make it at least once a month and it’s a family favorite! It’s so easy and delicious and makes you feel like you’re in Disney :) Love the 50′s Prime Time Cafe!

  15. John says:

    I think the food at 50′s is a cut above both Sci-Fi and Mamma M’s. However, I’m not a big fan of the schtick. Does anyone know if you can get the same food at Tune-In lounge and leave your cousin/aunt/uncle etc behind?

    While I’m not a fan of it all, my mother (who grew up in the 50′s) loves it!

  16. AJ says:

    Janna — Great story! How much dough did you end up racking up from the phone calls? ;-) I loved that fried boursin cheese. Delicious! Wish I’d gotten a pic back when they were serving it!

    Pudge — Awesome story about the “walkie talkie!” Agreed — this is one restaurant I always recommend because it’s got such great themeing (and so much potential for an all around good meal).

    Mandy — NO WAY! A tasting plate of the three best things on the menu?!? I love it! Did you get a pic?

    Sarah — I love the Tune-In Lounge. :-) And what a very “Michele Tanner” moment for your sister ;-)

    Greg — We love it, too. Went back in December, but I’m hoping we can make it there again soon.

    Matt — Yep; I think that’s some of the best fried chicken in WDW, to be sure. I agree that the apps are falling a bit on hard times…

    Kelly — I love the idea of imagineers scouring houses for those props! They’re so cool! And a few of them I actually remember from MY house!

    Carolyn — Let us know how it is when you go next week! (And if you get that tasting platter, take a pic! ;-D )

    Brandi — Thanks so much for YOUR great review! :-)

    Alan — Great point on the “improv” class! They really will run with you most of the time and it can be a lot of fun. Just like at Whispering Canyon, though, every once in a while you get a dud experience…

    Laurel — Aw, bummer! I’m glad you at least got the Chocolate Malt, but to have a server who’s not “into it” on a day that you are is really a downer. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Mary — Thanks for the review and the suggestion of Uncle Dave!

    Xtine — Agreed!! Tune-In Lounge is awesome!

    Nancy — Great suggestion! Thanks!

    John — You can indeed! Just order your meal at the bar at Tune-In and you’re all set!

  17. Monique says:

    We went in 2009 and we had a ball. I had 2 teens and they got all kinds of teasing….We laughed til we cried..I loved it…We are going back to WDW in 2012 and this is on the list..Can’t wait

  18. AJ says:

    Monique — That’s awesome! What a fun story! Thanks for the comment!

  19. Nicole says:

    My family and I try to visit Walt Disney World at least once a year and every time we go, we make sure to an ADR at 50′s Prime Time Cafe. It’s one of our favorites!

    Whenever I eat there, I always order the fried chicken. I’m thinking about trying one of their milkshakes when my family and I visit in March. The chocolate malt shakes sound delicious! I’m also tempted to try the PB&J shake. I don’t know how I’m going to decide!

  20. Emma Godbold (from the UK) says:

    Thanks for the great review AJ, I love the way you’re honest about the standard of food in the places you review…it’s sometimes the themeing that you go back for, not fancy food everytime!
    I’m thinking about braving this dining experience when I return to the World in October 2012. I guess over the years I’ve started to eat at my favourite places in each of the parks and perhaps after starting to read your blog I need to start experiencing some of the other restaurants that haven’t always been my first choice.
    During the last trip in December 10 I asked for ‘ketchup’ at Whispering Canyon Cafe and survived that experience, so perhaps in 2012 I’ll see what happens if I ‘don’t eat my greens’ ;)

  21. AJ says:

    Nicole – When in doubt, order both! ;-)

    Emma — I bet you guys would have a blast here. And if you’re going in October, maybe I’ll get to go with you!!

  22. Mandy Jansen says:

    YES! I did get a picture of the sampler plate!

    Can I embed pictures here? I will try…

    Otherwise, click here for the picture.

  23. Mandy Jansen says:

    okay, embedding the picture did not work, but the link worked!

  24. Emma Godbold (from the UK) says:

    AJ – Sure thing, put that in your diary for October 2012!! :)

  25. AJ says:

    Mandy, that’s AWESOME!!!

    Emma — you bet! (I’m serious, too!)

  26. DBTN says:

    One of my TOP 5 Themed restaurants in WDW. The food is also pretty good as well.

  27. James says:

    My family and I love Prime Time for the atmosphere. It is really a blast from the past. Personally, I love the antics but… there’s nothing worse than getting a server who is a dud. I’m a fan of the onion rings, fried chicken, and the pot roast, but I don’t care for the meat loaf at all. As far as the desserts go, you can’t go wrong with the s’mores.

    One note on the PBJ milkshakes (which I have also found too often are made with too much PB and not enough J): They are super easy to make at home and when you get the correct PB:J ratio they are incredible!!

  28. Jen says:

    My first time there was last year and our “cousin” was awesome! It was my boyfriends birthday and after singing he said because he knew “ya’ll were too cheap to get a card I did” and everyone in the room we ate in signed it”. Also because I drink my soda “like a fish” he brought me 4 diet cokes out at once and a map of DHS with all the bathrooms circled and “Bed Wetter’s Guide” written on it. Great memories to bring home! :O)

  29. Stacy says:

    My family had our 1st Disney trip in Sept. 2010 and 50′s was top on our list of “must dos” after reading so much about it. While we LOVED the food (I got pot roast, my dd got fried chicken and hubby got chicken sandwich)..our server was BEYOND a dud. :-( My dd didn’t like her green beans and was trying to hide them, I told her to leave them our for when our server came by. He took her plate, asked if she wanted dessert and brought me a drink refill without a word. So, then she was trying something off of my son’s plate and I told her to sit with her elbows on the table (we REALLY wanted to experience it all) and again…nothing. She sat there giggling hoping he would notice us, but he sort of acted like we were bothering him. He was rather young compared to some of the others and just wasn’t getting into it all. We sat at a TV table and to the right of me in the other room, they were all really getting razzed by their server, I had a ball just listening to everything in there getting “yelled” at, LOL! I had the Boston Creme Parfait for dessert and YUMMMMMO!!
    While we didn’t have the greatest experience there…we will be back in WDW in Oct. 2012 and again this is a MUST DO. There are plenty of servers there, we just hope we get someone new, lol.

  30. Jennifer says:

    Does anyone know if you can share entrees here? We ate there last summer and the fried chicken plate had A LOT of food for just one person. We’re going back in less than 2 weeks and wanted to take my family there to celebrate my mom’s b-day.

  31. AJ says:

    Jennifer — I’m not sure if there’s a split plate charge, but you should be able to share one way or another.

  32. Jeanne says:

    Our last ivist was disappointing. They were running way behind and they did not have the time to interact with the customers which was disappointing. The food was overcooked and my fish was dry and tasteless……….veggies were almost raw, to hard to eat. I was disappointed as our last trip was wonderful and fun.

  33. Louis-Philippe Cormier says:

    We went to 50 prime time on december 24 for our 6th time and the food was great as always. Cousin Jen made us interact with customer on our left. It was Layton birthday, from Louisiana. Everybody signed his card and sing him happy birthday. Don’t forget to remove your hat at the table! It was a great experience, thanks Jen.

  34. Tom says:

    I ate there again recently (4th time!) Love the meatloaf and fried chicken, but have to disagree – I LOVE the Boston Cream Pie parfait, in fact it’s the best dessert I’ve had at Disney! (Though I’ll admit there are many places I haven’t tried).

  35. Betty says:

    I took my friends to the 50′s prime Time and it was their first time there. They had so much fun from the beginning until they walked out the door. The food was wonderful. I got the chicken pot pie and my friends got the meatloaf, milk shakes and salads, they raved about the food. Our waiter was fantastic and it turned out he was from a city close to their home. I can’t say enough what a great dining experience this was.

  36. huskerfan says:

    We went to 50′s Prime Time for the first time last Sept 2013 after more than 30 trips to WDW. My 22 year old son joined my husband and me and we had a blast. Great server who reminded to keep our elbows off the table, asked us where our napkins were (we were able to take them off our laps and wave them to her) and she gave us “homework”. We had to name 25 animated Disney movies that had only one word for their title. We ended up cheating with other tables to finish our task—hey, we helped the other guest with their “homework” too! The food was home-cooking–meatloaf and potroast and everything was delicious. I’m with the author–would’ve rather had the chocolate shake than the pb&j one. Was one of the highlights of our trip! We were visiting our son who was in the internship program for animal behavior and technology–a time he’ll never forget as well!!!!

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *