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Review: Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe at Magic Kingdom

Today, we head to Tomorrowland for a visit to an “out-of-this-world” dining spot — Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe!

Situated on the corner between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, this spot actually boasts views of Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Main Street USA, and the Castle Hub!

With plenty of standard American fast food offerings, you’ll find lots of options to please pickier eaters here. And while at first glance the atmosphere isn’t all that interesting, it holds a few surprises.

Let’s head in and see what Cosmic Ray’s has to offer these days!

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe

Atmosphere

Cosmic Ray’s takes up a huge chunk of real estate right on the edge of Tomorrowland. The vibe is retro-future, much like the rest of the land. If you are a big fan of The Jetsons, Lost in Space, and the People Mover, this is the place for you!

Inside, you’ll find ample indoor and outdoor seating on a couple of different levels. And here’s a surprise — if you’re a newbie to Cosmic Ray’s: there’s a floor show!

Cosmic Rays -- Sonny View Seating

Throughout the day, animatronic alien lounge singer Sonny Eclipse comes to life and entertains you with his signature disco-blues style that is both futuristic and retro at once. Listen closely to the songs to get a few laughs.

Sonny Eclipse entertains at Cosmic Ray's

The area where Sonny performs does tend to be a little loud, so if you aren’t a fan of talking over music while you eat, there is also inside seating on the upper level that’s a bit set apart from the noise.

Inside Seating -- Away from Sonny's Floorshow

The restaurant also boasts lots of outside seating on its terrace, which features ceiling fans and is all nicely shaded.

Cosmic Rays Seating -- Outside

This is where you want to sit for sweeping views of Cinderella’s Castle, the Castle Hub area, and Main Street. It’s a rare blending of lands that you don’t normally see in Magic Kingdom, but it’s really nice — especially when it comes time to find a spot for viewing Wishes.

Outside Seating with View of Cinderella's Castle

Ordering areas are divided into “bays” here, so be sure to view all of the menus before deciding which queue to join.

Bays at Cosmic Ray's

And speaking of joining food lines, let’s head to the bays and check out our selections!

Eats

Cosmic Ray’s has one of the most extensive counter service menus in all of Magic Kingdom. While it doesn’t quite rival the variety of spots like Sunshine Seasons or resort food court-type offerings, you still find a more diverse menu here, including some vegetarian options.

Bay 1 Ordering Area

Bay 3 Ordering Area

And like many other counter service spots, Cosmic Ray’s now features flatscreen menu boards for the overhead menus.

Bay 2 Flatscreen Menu Boards

These will flash through pictures of the items on the menu, to take a moment to watch if seeing a photo of the food first might help you decide.

Menu Board -- Up Close

Before joining a queue, you can take a look at all of the menu items available via a laminated menu that a cast member will hand to you as you walk in the door. This is much easier than wandering throughout the restaurant to look at all three bay menus.

Menu Board Showing Different "Bays" for Entrees

Don’t forget — you can get your Poncho here at Cosmic Ray’s! (Mmmmm….ponchos…. .)

Other Menu Items -- Including Ponchos!

Once you get your food all ordered and picked up, it’s time to head over to the Condiment Bar! Yep, this is another one of those great Disney counter service locations that offers a wealth of goodies to top off your eats.

You’ll find the normal ketchup-mustard-mayo-ketchup combo…

Condiments

And the guest favorites, like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and sauteed onions and mushrooms, that make your entrees a little more special.

Toppings Bar

Toppings Bar Items -- Sauteed Onions and Mushrooms

And, of course, they do still offer my favorite — plastic cheese!

Plastic Cheese Dispenser

We got our goodies and headed off to find a quiet table.

I started my meal with a side order of the Chicken Noodle Soup. This was delicious, and so much fun with the Mickey-shaped pasta! Kids, whether they’re 4 or 34, will like this fun find, and it’s a great snack to tide you over to the next meal.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Mickey Pasta

For my entree, I chose the Barbecue Pork Sandwich, and went with fries as my side (you can also choose apple slices.)

Barbecue Pork Sandwich

The helping was hearty and the flavor was decent — definitely not too sweet or too spicy.

I’d choose the fresh, add-your-own-sauce version at Flametree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom over this one. But if you’re craving a pulled pork sandwich, this should fill the bill.

Barbecue Pork Sandwich -- Under the Bun

The large pieces of meat were a plus. There was definitely more pork than sauce here.

Barbecue Pork Sandwich -- Cross Section

We also tried Cosmic Ray’s Turkey Sandwich on this visit.

Turkey Sandwich

A cold deli-type option, this sucker was pre-loaded with toppings above and below, and there was a ton of turkey on the oblong artisan roll. However, the turkey didn’t provide a ton of flavor.

This was a crisp, un-soggy sandwich, and two lightly hungry people could easily split it, especially if they added a cup of that awesome soup.

Turkey Sandwich -- Cross Section

We were both a little puzzled by the Cucumber Salad, however. With no discernible herbs or spices, this was really more like cucumbers in vinegar. Which makes them pickles. Not salad.

But if you’re looking for a healthy option, or you’re choosing to skip the fries at this meal, you might find the bright crunch to be a nice option.

Cucumber Salad

We decided to share a Gelato for dessert. There are two offerings here: chocolate and mango. We went with the No-Sugar-Added Mango, which is actually a sorbet. It was quite refreshing with a strong flavor.

No-Sugar-Added Mango Sorbet

A peek at the label shows that the gelato, like many others at Walt Disney World, is made off-property. Also note that this is not only no-sugar-added, but it contains artificial sweeteners. It is dairy-free, though.

No-Sugar-Added Mango Sorbet with Lid

It was a terrific, lighter way to end a meal, which meant I had plenty of room for another treat later!

Also on offer here at Cosmic Ray’s are the awesome Chocolate Cake, and the Strawberry Yogurt.

Chocolate Cake

Strawberry Yogurt

Overall

Will the gourmand in your party find something fabulous at Cosmic Ray’s? Probably not. Still, if you’re feeding a hungry group of people, and this one wants hot dogs, that one wants hamburgers, she’s a vegetarian, and he wants a “sit-down” experience, it’s one of your better options in Magic Kingdom.

Everyone will find at least one thing that he or she will eat. And with pretty views of the castle and a kitschy floor show, it’s an interesting spot to dine.

Besides, Cosmic Ray’s has become a touchstone for some, who consider a Disney trip incomplete without at least one meal here.

Do you make it a point to stop at Cosmic Ray’s? Share with us your favorites below!

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34 Comments

  1. Nicola says:

    We used to LOVE this place, but on our last trip (sept 2011) we ate there twice over a 2 week period and both times my husband was poorly afterwards. Maybe it was the oil they cook in or something he ate differently, but he now wont entertain the idea of going back.

    We were on the DDP and mostly ate the burgers and chicken, we had all the deserts and overall wernt a fan of the gelato, the chocolate cake however, was lovely. The hot cheese is YUM!

    May have to get a meal elsewhere and eat in here just for Sonny!

  2. Rune says:

    We always seem to wind up at Cosmic Ray’s at least once during a trip to WDW. The hot cheese is a massive draw for both myself and my daughter, we always seem to end up with at least *coff coff* one pot apiece. And of course the rest of the fixins go down well too, it’s great they’re usually kept frsh and topped up.

    The bbq / pulled pork sandwich is often on our list of eats, my daughter’s also a fan of the chilli cheese fries, I think the only thing I ever tried there was the veggie wrap a few years ago which was just plain nasty and required a return trip to the plastic cheese tub for compensation.

    We love sitting on the terrace in the evening to watch the parade go, it’s a great atmosphere.

  3. Pudge the Fish says:

    Cosmic Ray’s was always our go-to lunch location but it may be a year or two since we dined there. When did the ribs get replaced by the BBQ sandwich? The half chicken and rib combo plate was the best use of a QS meal on the DDP.

  4. Sandy - winnieatepooh says:

    Mmm…I really enjoyed my last trip to cosmic rays…I had a veggie burger and fries that I smothered in plastic cheese, and the mango gelato. That mango gelato was a lifesaver! It was so incredibly hot but that kept me cool and tasted great. Such a great counter service place!

  5. Rhonda says:

    I noticed there are no more ribs on the menu. NO!!!!

  6. Dana says:

    We eat here at least once when we head down to WDW. I’m gluten-free, and the rotissere chicken is much more exciting than some of the other options I have there. And I can get it with just green beans and a gluten free chocolate chip cookie, which is awesome. It can get kind of noisy in there, but if you sit further away from the animatronic alien, it’s not that bad. Word of advice, though – do NOT attempt to use the bathrooms here. The line is always crazy, and it’s kind of gross in there. There are bathrooms right across from one of the exits, on the backside of where they do the Pooh and Tigger meet-and-greets.

  7. Wendy Snelgrove says:

    I ate here recently and figured out that if you add the fried mushrooms and plastic cheese to the burger (which comes with a cheese slice and bacon), you basically have a Wendy’s bacon mushroom melt, which is a glorious thing thing unless you are a cardiologist. Absolutely divine!

    I did eat it with apple slices, if that counts at all in my favour! ;-)

  8. AJ says:

    Nicola — I’m sorry your husband didn’t feel well. So glad you enjoyed the cake and cheese, though! :-)

    Rune — One pot?!? Try three or four for me! Heck, each fry should have it’s own fresh cheese. ;-) Just kidding. (Sort of.) Thanks for your great review!

    Pudge the Fish and Rhonda — Ribs meal AND Ribs and Chicken meal are still there — they’re just for dinner only, though. Still a great QS DDP meal for the combo at over $15!

    Sandy — That mango gelato is one of the better no-sugar-added treats in WDW, I think!

    Dana — Great tips on the restrooms and seating!!

    Wendy Snelgrove — Ha ha! Great find!! And, yes, apple slices negate a world of sins. ;-)

  9. Robyn says:

    My husband and I ate there on our last trip. Even though its just burgers and such I would have to say it was good. Would it be my first choice of counter service meals, no. But it was good to just sit, eat and people watch.

  10. lebeau says:

    We are 0-2 at Cosmic Rays. Both times, seating was a problem. Manuevering that place at meal time with a stroller, trays of food and kids is a daunting task. Finding a table can take 10-20 minutes. Castmembers watched as we waited for a table to open only to have someone else swoop in and take it before we could gather our kids and our stuff. Plus, the set-up often requires waiting in line more than once to get everything your party wants.

    After the first headache-inducing experience, we decided to give Cosmic Rays one more chance. The second time was just as bad, but my wife’s food was inedible. The capper was a chocolate cake that was freezer burned beyond belief.

    Even if I wanted to (and I don’t) I couldn’t drag my family back into that place.

  11. Pardonmyfrench says:

    The only things that are good are the variety and the view. Food quality is McDonalds. It’s not bad, just average. I’d rather get a hotdog from Casey’s or by the people mover.

  12. Ben Rockwood says:

    My wife and I have 5 kids, and while we like the seating space, Sonny, and the food, there have been times when we have been VERY frustrated by the bay approach. With 5 kids we have to get in line at one bay for a couple of us, then in line at another bay for another order, then in line at the last bay. It’s really very inefficient unless everyone in the party agrees to eat from the same bay… or if you only have a kid or two and can easily have mom and dad split up.

  13. Sandra says:

    Cosmic Ray’s is not my favorite, but we sometimes end up there for convenience sake (I prefer Columbia Harbor House). The food is fine, but it drives me nuts to have to get in all those separate lines because of course, no one in my family can agree on one thing. I wish they had touch screen ordering and centralized pick up. I can recommend eating on the patio with the view of the Castle; it’s lovely, day or night. And Sonny must be experienced!

  14. AJ says:

    Robyn — Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel about it, too. :-)

    lebeau — Those are some seriously bummer experiences! I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad time. Usually I hit Cosmic Ray’s only during the “off times” for eating. I can’t handle it when it’s too crowded, so I feel your pain.

    Pardonmyfrench — I love me some Casey’s hot dogs!

    Ben Rockwood — Agreed! Our Disney Food for Families columnist, Erin Foster, actually wrote an article all about the problems that ensue for families with multi-line quick service restaurants: http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2011/03/09/disney-food-for-families-a-parents-dilemma-multi-line-quick-service/. You are not alone!

    Sandra — Ha ha! I always end up choosing things from the same line because I just don’t feel like going to stand in another one!

  15. Ashley says:

    I know it’s probably a fluke, but my boyfriend got really ill after eating a burger from Cosmic Ray’s a few months ago. Granted, they had spontaneously extended MK park hours that day (all of the parks were crowded), and we ate pretty close to closing, so I’m sure the burgers weren’t the freshest they could have been. Even still, it was off-putting enough that we haven’t been back since, and don’t plan to any time soon. The only thing I’d remotely want is plastic cheese and fries, but that can be had at Casey’s. Guess that’s the chance you take dining out- I just felt so bad for him. :(

  16. vanessa gordon says:

    My Hunny and I can share the half rotisserie chicken- It is so yummy and plenty for us if we add an extra side of fries-with Plastic Cheese for me !

  17. Essie says:

    This place has always lost out to the Harbour House with me in the past. I went in a couple of times, but it was so crowded and chaotic that I left. Now that BOG has opened with a wonderful lunch, I think this place will be third on my list, but I’ll get in to try it eventually.

  18. Julie says:

    I like Cosmic Rays as its one of the few places in the MK that you can get something veggie that isn’t a veggie burger or cheese pizza! I enjoyed my veggie sandwich, but I have to say this was far too big for one person! Considering it came with fries as well, you could easily half the sandwich and the fries and share. My daughter got the turkey sandwich, and again – way too big a portion for just one person. Love the extra’s you can get though to jazz up your sandwich!

  19. Debbie C says:

    I’m a fan of Cosmic Rays for a quick meal. My favorite items here are the rotisserie chicken (quite good & large enough to share if you’re mildly hungry) and the sauted mushrooms from the fixins bar. I often ask for a small extra plate and eat a scoop of the “shrooms” as a side dish. While I know it has a cult following, I’m not a fan of the “plastic cheese”. Trick to getting good seating is to eat “off times”; before or after the major lunch/dinner rush.

  20. Melissa says:

    The fixings bars at Cosmic Ray’s and Pecos Bill’s are a hazard. Way too much pushing, shoving, and cutting in between people. And forget it if you have any mobility issues. There should be some kind of railing or stanchion around it that forces people to go in one end, all move in the same direction, and come out the other. There’d be a lot less spilling, for one thing, and a lot fewer people getting elbowed or kicked.

  21. Janet says:

    It’s been a couple years since we’ve been back to WDW. The last time we were there, Cosmic Ray’s was one of the ones who would not let you save tables during meal times. You had to have your whole family together and the CM would point you to a table.

    Pecos Bill’s was the same way. When we ate there, it was pouring rain & everyone was trying to get a table to sit until the rain stopped. The CMs were not letting you sit down unless you had your family together & tray(s) in hand. If you didn’t have food, they wouldn’t even let you into the area, due to the congestion.

    Don’t know if that’s still being done during busy times, but based on the article, it doesn’t sound like it’s the normal procedure now. We were there during October, so it wasn’t as busy as summer or Christmas time.

  22. Ashley says:

    My aunt & I ate there 2x during our Jan2012 trip to WDW. We both thought the bbq sandwich was great, although it’s the same as the one at Pecos Bills. The toppings bar adds so much, since there was enough for my aunt to make a big plate of salad (and I had a whole plate of sauteed mushrooms!).

  23. TammieQ says:

    Cosmic Ray’s (along with Columbia Harbour House) is one of our go-to quick service meals when my husband and I are in the Magic Kingdom. We love it! The food is great; the vegetable sandwich with the cucumber salad is my favorite. It’s delicious, healthy and you don’t feel stuffed, which is definitely a plus in the summer months!

  24. Susan says:

    Our family group ate there in December and were really disappointed the pita/wrap sandwich was no longer available. The toppings bar is still great with the sauteed mushrooms and onions. My sister and I split the turkey sandwich, and I found the turkey to be too salty but otherwise unremarkable.

  25. Ivis says:

    I really enjoy the half rotisserie chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes at Cosmic Ray’s!

  26. Jenny says:

    Do quick service meals on the Disney Dining plan come with a side (such as fries) or just the sandwich?

    Thanks!

  27. AJ says:

    Jenny — They come with fries or apple slices usually :-)

  28. Jen says:

    Love Cosmic Ray’s! I want to try the mango gelato but I don’t like artificial sweeteners. Do you know if it has a really strong taste of them?

  29. Trish says:

    I try to make it a point to get there at least once. I love their burgers and the floor show!

  30. Jeff C. says:

    When I die I want to be stuffed and propped up next to Sonny Eclipse. Is that weird?

    I drag Joe hear at least once a trip – don’t know why, but I love it! It’s a must-go-to every time.

  31. Matthew Field says:

    My family loves Cosmic Rays! We always make it a point to visit sonny during our trips to WDW. ( weve been to WDW twice so far- 10′ and 12′) I like the bay setup, and both times I have chosen Bay 1. I love the chicken and rib combo, and im sad its gone, but more than likely ill stick with the chicken. Its always hot and juicy when ive gotten it. I like this place because of the assortment, and during our vacations there, im always getting the angus burger at pecos bills, and pinocchios village haus, so cosmic rays offerings are a good changeup. The location cant be beat, as your right in the mix of tom. land and fantasyland….We cant wait to eat there in april 2014!!
    ps- star traders is next door…my fave store!

  32. Konrad Koesling says:

    I visited this place on May 2012, and might be my last visit to it….the hamburger we ordered were terrible, the meat was extremely dry and hard, with no taste at all, the buns were old (you can easily notice the difference between an old bun and a fresh one), the sitting was a problem regarding maneuverability (I had 2 strollers) and the nuggets weren’t good at all…
    I might visit another place

  33. Gee says:

    Any idea what is on the vegetable sandwich? Thanks!

  34. brandon says:

    Every Disney visit we always stop here for lunch but usually for a late night dinner before the park closes. An awesome experience to end the day relaxed

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