Review: New Menu at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

You are likely well aware that BIG CHANGES are underway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

After all, the addition of two whole new lands — Star Wars and Toy Story — is no small undertaking. And the construction has already resulted in the closure of several eateries (including my beloved Writer’s Stop and Starring Rolls) around the park.

But a few classic spots have remained, thankfully, untouched for now. And when it comes to Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, this spot’s dedicated fans — and there are many — sure hope that “for now” extends to “for always.”

And I can’t argue with that. There’s something so fun (and completely immersive) about sitting in a booth shaped like a vintage car, watching a reel of old movie clips on the big screen under a faux night sky.

But while Sci-Fi wins loads of points for ambiance, some diners find the food to be a little hit or miss. So on this visit, we checked out a mix of some ol’ standbys along with items from the recently revamped menu.

So, let’s drive in, shall we?

Atmosphere

Sci-Fi Dine-In is essentially a massive room (make that, soundstage) with high, dark ceilings made to resemble the starry nighttime sky, and row upon row upon row of vintage-style convertibles. That’s the drive-in part of the Dine In, and it’s just about one of the most fun dining settings in Disney World.

Sci-Fi Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In

You basically sit in the front seat or the back seat, and you have a fairly shallow counter in front of you. That’s your table. Not exactly conversation friendly, but that’s A-OK, because there’s other entertainment to take in.

THIS is the Sci-Fi part of things. The big screen in front features clip reels from old sci-fi and horror flicks, where zombies, aliens, and The Blob star in some some seriously fun old clips. And don’t fret over the horror bits — they’re far more kitschy than scary. And occasionally Uncle Walt shows up to lighten the mood even more!

Sci-Fi Screen

Sci-Fi Screen

If you’re not in the mood to eat in a totally sweet ride, there are a few tables (and picnic tables) available as well. These retro-style tables offer a little more elbow room to those who might prefer some. And this is also much easier for high chairs and wheelchairs. (Though note that there are a couple of “car” tables that will accommodate high chairs as well.)

Sci Fi Picnic Tables

Sci-Fi Picnic Tables

They’re tucked in back of the theater, near the Concession Stand. But those aren’t the only concessions they’re serving up at Sci-Fi Dine-In…

Eats

Sci-Fi Dine-In features all-American grub; much of it with a quirky twist befitting the unique setting. Specialty sips are part of the game, so we perused the Drink Menu first.

Sci-Fi Drink Menu

Sci-Fi Drink Menu

There’s a decent variety here, including several Craft Beers. If you’re a glow cube collector, order the Magical Star Cocktail or the Orbiting Oreos (which are especially fun here in the nighttime-no-matter-what-time setting).

Additional Specialty Beverages are presented on a smaller menu, which you’ll definitely want to check out.

Sci-Fi Specialty Beverages

Sci-Fi Specialty Beverages

Now, I honestly feel like it’s not a visit to Sci-Fi without a milkshake. Maybe it’s just something in the 1950’s-esque setting, or the scent of onion rings wafting in the air that makes me crave a sweet accompaniment, but I can never resist. This time, the Oreo Milkshake was calling my name.

Sci-Fi Orbiting Oreos

Oreo Milkshake

A bit heavy to start a meal? Maybe. Totally worth it? Yep. You can’t go wrong with Chocolate or Vanilla, either, but Oreo in particular is especially indulgent and delicious, with lots of little Oreo bits mixed in throughout. (FYI — if  you’d like to kick it up, this one can be ordered with Godiva chocolate liqueur. It’s called Orbiting Oreos on the menu.)

Of course, we had to spend some time reviewing the recently revamped menu. The latest incarnation has plenty of tempting options, which you’ll be able to read a little better by clicking the image below to enlarge. (I have a love-hate relationship with Sci-Fi, by the way. I love visiting this restaurant, but I kind of hate snapping pics in the uber dark room. It ain’t easy, folks.)

Sci-Fi Menu

Sci-Fi Menu

Here’s a look at the Kids’ Menu as well. On it you’ll find typical kid-friendly dishes like Popcorn Chicken and a Cheeseburger, but the Mickey Check Meals (aka Disney’s healthier options for kids) included Grilled Salmon, which is a nice addition.

Sci-Fi Kids' Menu

Sci-Fi Kids’ Menu

And like all table service locations in the Parks, if you’ve got allergies or food sensitivities, there’s a menu for that (and you can always request to speak to a chef for a one-on-one consultation).

Sci-Fi Allergy Menu

Sci-Fi Allergy Menu

I promise that I’ll be getting to the new items soon, but there is one appetizer I have to get every time: Crispy Onion Rings. They come stacked in this groovy arrangement, with Sweet Chili and Horseradish dipping sauces. Cool flavors that are definitely a step above ketchup (though you can get that, too).

Sci-Fi Crispy Onion Rings

Crispy Onion Rings

To see the mechanism behind this tower of onion rings, we pulled them off and took a closer look. We think it fits in with the retro theme, like a little metal rocket! Shazam!!

Sci-Fi Onion Stack Contraption

Sci-Fi Onion Stack Contraption

Well, we also pulled them off to eat them all. The name doesn’t lie — the breading on the onion rings here is always crisped to a perfect golden brown offering a delicious, savory crunch against the soft, buttery onions. They never disappoint.

Besides our Crispy Onion Rings, we ordered the Sci-Fi Appetizer Sampler. It comes with three crowd-pleasing appetizers: Boneless Buffalo Wings, Spinach-Artichoke Dip, and Fried Dill Pickles.

Sci0Fi Appetizer Sampler

Sci-Fi Appetizer Sampler

Ranch and Blue Cheese dipping sauces and a basket of Tortilla Chips complete the dish.

The Boneless Buffalo Wings are pretty straightforward; tasty without being revolutionary. I will say, there were quite a few of them, so plenty to go around.

Sci-Fi Appetizer Sampler Buffalo Chicken

Boneless Buffalo Wings

Similarly, the Spinach-Artichoke Dip was fine — but not mind-blowing. Still, if you like this dish at any of the chain restaurants in the real world, you’ll enjoy this one.

Sci-Fi Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

The Fried Dill Pickles, on the other hand, are the most unique item in the Sampler and the most enjoyable, too — not only because they’re more atypical. There’s lots of dill packed into the layer of thick batter, so the flavor really explodes.

Sci-Fi Fried Pickles

Fried Dill Pickles

And the juicy pickles are a decent size. We liked the texture contrast between the crunchy coating and the softer inside.

Sci-Fi Fried Dill Pickles

Fried Dill Pickles

Remember, these can be ordered as an appetizer on their own. Ditto for the wings and the dip, but I recommend going for the pickles.

The entree list is fairly large by Disney standards, and features lots of familiar eats, like Reuben and Caprese Sandwiches and an All-American Burger. Vegetarians will want to know that a Falafel Burger is up for grabs, too.

We decided to dig into the Sci-Fi Drive-In BBQ Burger. It’s served with thick-cut fries.

Sci-Fi Drive-In BBQ Burger Meal

Sci-Fi Drive-In BBQ Burger with Fries and Milkshake

But it wasn’t even the appeal of “BBQ” in the name that got our attention; it was the description.

Sci-Fi Drive In BBQ Burger

Sci-Fi Drive In BBQ Burger

Because the toppings under that pretty brioche bun include crispy Fried Jalapenos. We were all over that! The other toppers are Cheddar Cheese, BBQ Sauce, and Fried Onions. So, a pretty common combo otherwise. But the Fried Jalapenos are a clever addition.

Sci-Fi Drive-In BBQ Burger Toppings

Sci-Fi Drive-In BBQ Burger Toppings

I won’t say they added a ton of heat, but I loved the doubling up of crunchy bits, and did get some of that signature jalapeno flavor. Of course, the other toppings — like lots of crispy bacon — fought for some attention, too.

But check out this cross-section, with the Sci-Fi signature blend of beef which makes up the burger. This is NOT, thankfully, your typical well-done-to-the-point-of-dry Disney burger. Nope. And here’s WHY: The current chef at Sci-Fi recently came over from D-Luxe Burger in Disney Springs! So the Sci-Fi burger uses the same proprietary blend of beef that’s used at D-Luxe…which is amazingly delicious. And they KNOW not to cook burgers to within an inch of their lives. So YAY for burger rejuvenation here!

Sci-Fi Drive-In BBQ Burger

Sci-Fi Drive-In BBQ Burger

It was moist, tender, juicy, and tasty. OH, and keep your eye on the signature burgers here. They switch out the specialty, seasonal burger regularly, and the Chef said they might be bringing back that one with the Boursin cheese that everyone loved! (Or at least something like it.)

Another item that features a little twist on the traditional is the Blackened Chicken Pasta. Aside from a decent Four-Cheese Sauce and the Blackened Chicken itself, this dish also has Red Bell Peppers, Asparagus, and Fried Okra. That last one threw us for a little loop, but we’re feeling the New Orleans vibe on this.

Sci-Fi Blackened Chicken Pasta

Blackened Chicken Pasta

The dish will definitely stick to your ribs, which may or may not work for you as you tour a theme park in broiling central Florida. But it tastes good, and it shows a little creativity. That said, it’s not a WOW! dish, and I’d highly recommend the burgers or ribs over this one.

And in the name of research, we asked to try the Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese that is typically served with the Flame-Broiled New York Strip Steak.

Sci-Fi Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese

Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese

It’s good, y’all. Creamy and decadent. And there’s actual flavor to it, which some mac and cheeses simply don’t have. I’m sure it would pair great with that steak.

Dessert? Yes, please!!

Sci-Fi Dessert Menu

Sci-Fi Dessert Menu

Since I’ve already had the House-made Sci-Fi Candy Bar (blergh.) as well as the Out-Of-This-World Turtle Cheesecake (good!), I thought I should get something I hadn’t tried previously (even though I would totally go for the Turtle Cheesecake again!).

So this time, it was the Warm Glazed Doughnut for me. This whole ice-cream-on-a-doughnut thing is pretty much everywhere at the moment. You might recall the Donut Sundae at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. Or the Cronut a la Mode at Epcot’s Refreshment Port. Or the Beignet Gelato Sundae you can get at Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (beignets are fancy doughnuts, right?). You get it. And we got it!

Sci-Fi Warm Glazed Doughnut

Warm Glazed Doughnut

This one bears a resemblance to the Donut Sundae at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in that apples come into play here, too, but Sci-Fi’s version features sliced Cinnamon Apples (as opposed to a compote) along with caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream topping the warm doughnut. The cinnamon apples, in my opinion, are a much better accompaniment than the compote. It makes the dish more akin to a comfort food cobbler, only with a donut instead of a crust or crumble. My top nod still goes to the Turtle Cheesecake, but this really is enjoyable.

Nosh or Not?

Sci-Fi Dine-In is for you if:

  • You want to dine in a quintessentially DISNEY spot. This place is imagineered to perfection. We love the themeing here.
  • You’re looking for comfort food. These are burgers, sandwiches, mac and cheese, popcorn chicken…nothing too fancy here.
  • You have kids. Seriously — they will LOVE this joint.

You might skip Sci-Fi Dine-In if:

  • You’re looking for romantic or high-end dining. This ain’t that.
  • You’re looking for seriously *excellent* food. This is good, but it’s not winning awards for innovation or taste…yet. This place is all about the atmosphere.
  • Your kids might be scared of the 1950s horror flick clips. It happens!

Overall

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: everyone should try Sci-Fi Dine-In at least once. But it really is the kind of place that weasels its way into the hearts of Disney fans by serving up familiar foods in a super fun retro setting.  It’s 100% pure charm.

I’m happy to say, though, that this particular meal stood out to me as one of the best I’ve had here, and the food was on par with the good feelings that come along with this sentimental favorite. So it’s really good to know that not everything in Hollywood Studios is changing. Some things have remained — very happily — the same.

Which Disney restaurants are your sentimental favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Comments

  1. Kirsten says

    Some things are just sacred for me at Sci-Fi and that was the days of unlimited milkshake refills and the Galactic grill cheese (a triple layer grilled cheese sandwich). They got rid of these things years ago but they live on in my memory as my favorite experience in Disney World

  2. DougD says

    Would it kill them to offer a couple of healthy menu options in each restaurant? Not all of us are trying to work our way into the 30% obesity group.

  3. Jeanette says

    I am sad that they changed the turkey sandwich and increased the price. It was my lightish, go-to meal at DHS. Are the sweet potato fries still available. Those made Sci-fi a must do every trip for me. Also, is the fried okra available as a side item???

  4. Daniel says

    We had a really great vegetarian meal here last trip: we substituted the wings for onion rings on the sampler and a Reuben with the falafel patty instead of beef! Came out great!

  5. Lori says

    I have to agree, DougD. Menus like this and Planet Hollywood, where virtually everything is fried, drenched in cheese, or insanely sugary are really unappealing to me. They have grilled salmon and chicken breast with ancient grains and vegetables on the kids menu, why not for the grown ups?

  6. Dave says

    Everyone is commenting on the food but seem to overlook one thing. Sure some of the food is cheesy, as are the movies, but that is what makes this restaurant great. And with all the changes going on in that area, NO ONE on the Disney planning board had better even think about closing this unique place !!

  7. Essie says

    I was hoping you’d review the candy bar dessert, but then I saw your, ‘blergh’! lol I’ve eaten here once and we really enjoyed it as it was pretty good food in a totally fun place to eat, very creative, very Disney!

  8. says

    The vegetarian shepherd’s pie they had was amazing. Sad they got rid of that. That would have been why we’d go back. We can get a falafel burger at Cosmic Ray’s, so sorry sci fi.

  9. Hayley says

    Oh Man! So disappointed that the menu changed right before my visit – I really liked the burger they had with pulled pork, sriracha and apple slaw. The Southern Burger and BBQ Burger sound nice though!

    We rarely get anything besides burgers and shakes at Sci Fi, they just do them so well!

  10. Brad Kinsey says

    The menu is blurry. Can you take another pic’, a bit more in focus please?

  11. Lori Greer says

    My husband and I had the Boursin burger in Feb and it was fabulous. Our first time was very disappointing so we never planned to go back but my son begged. I really hope they bring it back!

  12. Bret says

    you said ship if you want a romantic dinner….. I kind of think it is a romantic spot and the food was great. We went in June and split the BBQ wings and burger and it was great. They cut the burger for us before it cam out. I love the place and am glad we went.

  13. Tracy says

    We wanted so much to love this place. Alas. We were seated by the door so the a/c didn’t keep our car cool. Plus we had a lunch ADR so it was pretty much day-time bright. (Hard to see the movie due to the glare.) The food was “fine” but not great. Rather boring. It will be a long time before we go back.

  14. Kim says

    Adults can eat off the kids menu if you want something that is from there, like the chicken and ancient grains.

  15. Ed says

    This remains the only restaurant that my wife and I have ever walked out of in the middle of a meal. Everything tasted off, as in something had gone bad, and was too greasy for us. The dim light was conveniently hiding the disgusting appearance of the bad food. We paid for our drinks and swore never to come back, its a shame because we do love the theme. Maybe we had an off night, but it was enough to scare us off.

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