What’s New at 50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World has always been a destination for movie (and TV) magic.

And even though the park is in the throes of dramatic re-imagining, we’re happy that some favorite dining experiences have remained. One such favorite is 50s Prime Time Cafe, the totally immersive, throwback-Thursday-everyday table service restaurant where your Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins berate you for putting your elbows on the table and the menu is packed with comfort food.

We’ve visited 50s Prime Time Cafe several times over the years (most recently in 2016), and one of the best parts of the experience here is the consistency of the food. If you enjoy American comfort food, you won’t be disappointed by the offerings at 50s.

And if you’re not a fan of heavy classics like meatloaf and fried chicken, there are actually still some decent options for you — and you’ll get to experience the fun of mid-century family life straight out of a sitcom.

So set the table, keep those elbows off the table, and get ready to clean your plates!

50s Prime Time Sign

50s Prime Time Sign

Atmosphere

The immersive experience at 50s Prime Time Cafe is evident from wall to wall — and we mean that literally. You’ll find old timey collectibles ev.er.y.where. And we can’t get enough of them!

Open shelving and tchotchkes galore!

Open shelving and tchotchkes galore!

Retro busts and figurines

Retro busts and figurines

Everyone should have a Cookie Trolley.

Everyone should have a Cookie Trolley.

Every shelf is packed full of fun stuff — so you’ve got to take a stroll to check it all out. Seating is in the family kitchen, where shelves of retro items are on display and everyone gets a television — black and white and flashing clips of old programs! (And yes, these are the SAME clips you saw on your last trip…even if it was in, like, 2005.)

Seating at 50s Prime Time Cafe

Seating at 50s Prime Time Cafe

The wallpaper is seriously serious, with its classic black-and-white checkerboard pattern.

50s Prime Time Cafe Seating

50s Prime Time Cafe Seating

And the TV styling? Space age, baby!

Someone adjust the bunny ears!

They should sell these things.

But here at 50s Prime Time Cafe, there are rules, family!

Stay out of Mom's kitchen!

Stay out of Mom’s kitchen!

Remember that dining here, you’re being served by your cousin most likely, and they’re pretty straightforward! No special treatment for you, and if you can’t tell them what color the soap was in the restroom you may end up standing in the corner for not washing your hands. If you don’t want to take part in the shenanigans (like singing “I’m a little teapot” in front of the whole restaurant when you didn’t finish your veggies), let your server know when you are seated.

If you’d like to see some of the fun antics, click here!

So what’s Mom cookin’ up in there? Let’s check it out!

Eats

The menu at 50s Prime Time Cafe is a laundry list of classic American comfort food — with a few nods here and there to healthier eats that probably weren’t on Grandma’s table. But you’ll want to start with a glance at the Drink Menu, where you can pilfer something From Dad’s Liquor Cabinet (or select a Sparkling Wine or Craft Beer).

50s Prime Time Cafe Drink Menu

50s Prime Time Cafe Drink Menu

Beverages at 50s Prime Time Cafe

Beverages at 50s Prime Time Cafe

While these adult beverages are a fun addition to the meal (and included in the 2018 Disney Dining Plan!), there’s really one drink you’ve got to try — and it’s family friendly! The Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shake is front and center on the full menu, and it’s delicious!

50s Prime Time Cafe Menu

50s Prime Time Cafe Menu

It’s served in a tall glass with the stainless milkshake cup so you can top off your shake throughout your meal. And you’re going to want to drink every last drop!

PB and J Milkshake at 50s Prime Time

PB and J Milkshake at 50s Prime Time

On this visit, I asked to see the Allergy-Friendly Menu and received this two-page menu with allergens clearly listed in red.

50s Prime Time Cafe Allergy Friendly Menu

50s Prime Time Cafe Allergy Friendly Menu

50s Prime Time Cafe Allergy Friendly Menu

50s Prime Time Cafe Allergy Friendly Menu

The Fried Herb and Garlic Cheese is one of my favorite things on any menu anywhere in the World — and we celebrated hard when it returned to the menu years ago after disappearing for a period! It’s a wheel of fried cheese served with fruit, raspberry sauce, and a piece of crusty bread. You have to get this!

Fried Cheese Appetizer

Fried Herb and Garlic Cheese Appetizer

Next up, entrees! Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop was a miss on my visit. I love the concept — and the flavors are good.

Dad's Stuffed Pork Chop

Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop

There’s great color on the outside of the chop, and the accompaniments are colorful and tasty.

Dad's Stuffed Pork Chop

Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop

But this pork chop was way too tough and a challenge to cut through — to say nothing of actually chewing it! Hopefully it was just poorly executed on my visit and is actually awesome for everyone else. But I wouldn’t chance it again.

Dad's Stuffed Pork Chop Interior

Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop Interior

Rather, I’d go for a Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes! This is a definite yes if you enjoy the three components: Roast Beef, Fried Chicken, and Meatloaf (complete with ketchup squiggle).

Sampling of Mom's Favorites

Sampling of Mom’s Favorites

If you’re looking to choose just one of the three, though, the Fried Chicken is the bomb, followed closely by the Roast Beef. You can’t go wrong with either one!

Sampling of Mom's Favorites

Sampling of Mom’s Favorites

The Sustainable Verlasso Salmon is one of those menu items that likely wasn’t on everyone’s gran’s table. But it’s a terrific option for those looking to eat a little lighter (and more sustainably). This was well prepared and served with a great assortment of veggies.

Sustainable Verlasso Salmon

Sustainable Verlasso Salmon

The final entrees of the day are actually two versions of the same dish: Adult and Kids’ Chicken Pot Pie. This creamy mix is a combo of chicken, mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, and peas. It’s topped with a flaky pastry — which seems to be pretty much the only difference between the two sizes. The grown up version comes with a square of pastry…

Adult Chicken Pot Pie

Adult Chicken Pot Pie

…while the (way more fun) kids’ version comes with Mickey-shaped pastry! Really, the portion size was so similar that it’s worth it to go with the kids’ just for the fun factor!

Kids' Chicken Pot Pie

Kids’ Chicken Pot Pie

The flavor on this is a little bit bland, but I’m not a huge chicken pot pie fan. If you LOVE pot pie, you’ll likely enjoy this one. It has several guest devotees.

Of course, there’s also a Dessert Menu, where Mom and Dad have listed some of their favorite sweets.

Desserts at 50s Prime Time Cafe

Desserts at 50s Prime Time Cafe

Dessert at 50s Prime Time Cafe features some classics — and we do love a classic dessert! Unfortunately, these were not really up to par. The Traditional Warm Apple Crisp was covered in plenty of sweet/buttery crisp.

Traditional Warm Apple Crisp

Traditional Warm Apple Crisp

But the filling is a generic canned apple pie-type filling. So it was tasty, but it wasn’t special.

Traditional Warm Apple Crisp

Traditional Warm Apple Crisp

Dad’s Favorite Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake was disappointing (especially for lovers of chocolate/PB combos!). This was dry and unremarkable. Get the Peanut Butter and Jelly Shake instead!

Dad's Favorite Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Dad’s Favorite Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Nosh or Not?

Pull up a chair in Mom’s kitchen if: 

  • The idea of dining in a different decade sounds fun!
  • You like comfort food and want to eat some good renditions of old favorites!
  • You’re looking for a table service dining experience that’s casual and even a little irreverent.

Change the dining channel if: 

  • You prefer not to be pulled into hijinks while you dine.
  • You want to eat food that’s a bit more innovative and adventurous.
  • Table service doesn’t interest you — you’ve got rides to ride and attractions to enjoy.

Overall

Family, 50s Prime Time Cafe is still the bee’s knees, with tasty eats and some of the best atmosphere you’ll find in the World! On my visit the service was truly amazing (shout-out to Mark and Elaine). It’s a must-do at least once in your travels to Hollywood Studios. And don’t forget: if you can’t score an Advance Dining Reservation for 50s (or the walk-up time is too long a wait for you), you can get the full menu in neighboring Tune-In Lounge!

Want to know how 50s Prime Time Cafe ranks among Hollywood Studios restaurants? Check out our DFB YouTube video of the best (and worst) of the Studios!

Is 50s Prime Time Cafe on your Disney must-do list? Tell us what you love the most! 

Review: Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner at Garden Grill in Epcot

Today, we’re sharing with you our latest visit to Garden Grill Restaurant for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner!

Garden Grill is basically one of my favorite character meals. First, it’s a character meal with really great interaction. And while Chip ‘n’ Dale are the headliners, here, you also get to hang out with Farmer Mickey and Pluto!

But beyond the characters, we enjoy the unique ambiance that Garden Grill offers. If you’ve never visited the restaurant, wait ’til you see what it does! Yes — DOES!

We’ve also had some pretty fantastic meals here. Breakfast is virtually a tradition for my family.

But today, we’re visiting in the evening. We’ve enjoyed past dinners here. Let’s see if the trend continues.

Atmosphere

Looking for Garden Grill Restaurant? Hang a right after Spaceship Earth and head toward The Land Pavilion in Future World West.

The Land Pavilion

The Land Pavilion

Walkways line the perimeter walls inside the building and lead you down to the pavilion’s three levels, which host The Circle of Life film on the right, and Living with the Land, Soarin’, and Sunshine Seasons (one of our favorite counter service spots) on the bottom. There’s also an elevator if you’d prefer it to walking.

The Land Ceiling

The Land Ceiling

You’ll find the Garden Grill directly across from the entrance.

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

And here’s where we talk about what Garden Grill does: it rotates. In fact, it’s the only restaurant in Orlando — and only one of a handful in the world — that spins.

Now, just in case the thought of a rotating restaurant doesn’t sound all that appetizing, we promise you that Garden Grill spins at a snail’s pace. We aren’t talking spinning teacups here.

Garden Grill Wide View

Garden Grill Wide View

Why does it spin? Well, there’s more than one way to check out the attractions within Living with the Land! As the restaurant rotates, guests are treated to scenes from the ride. This mural acts as sort of a gateway.

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

You’ll visit a farmhouse — or see it from above, anyway. I think this scene is particularly fun, because you get to look inside one of the windows from this vantage point!

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

You’ll also see extremes in landscapes. As you view a rainforest scene, and watch it morph into a desert scene as you travel.

Rainforest

Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill

The Desert

Your vehicle for sightseeing is your table, of course.

Tables are arranged in a sort of stadium seating pattern on two levels around the restaurant. Top tier tables are your garden variety rectangular tables, like you see here.

Table and Seating

Table and Seating

On the lower level, semi-circular booths face out, giving you the best view of the scenes you pass.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

And did you notice? Mickey makes an appearance before your meal ever starts! :-D

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

And that brings me to Reason Number Two that you might want to visit Garden Grill: the characters. Let’s check ‘em out.

Characters

One of my top reasons for visiting Garden Grill is the character interaction. In fact, it’s one of my Top Two Favorite Character Meals in Walt Disney World! Of course, I love when I can see Mickey during a character meet and greet. And here, he’s dressed in his farmer finest.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Mickey is joined by his faithful pup sidekick, Pluto.

Pluto

Pluto

But this is, after all, Chip ‘n’ Dale’s gig. So you’re sure to see the playful pair as you enjoy your dinner.

Chip

Chip

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

And that’s one of the coolest things about Garden Grill — it’s not just the stellar character interaction, but the amount of interaction you get. The restaurant is fairly small in size, so that means you normally have the chance to visit with characters more than once during your meal.

Eats

So we’ve talked about the fact that Garden Grill rotates, thus making it something kinda special. And, of course, any day that you can share your meal with Chip ‘n’ Dale and Friends is gonna be a good one.

But how about the food? Well, the good news is — that’s pretty great, too.

Garden Grill serves its meals family style, meaning that shareable platters are brought to the table, and you can ask for more of anything you like. That also means that everyone dining has the choice of a non-alcoholic beverage as part of the prix fixe price of his or her meal. But if you’d like, you can also order from a list of special drinks, including cocktails, mocktails, beer, and wine.

Special Drinks Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Special Drinks Menu — Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu — Click to Enlarge

You don’t really choose what you’re getting at Garden Grill (unless you have special dietary needs; talk to your server in that case). The offerings are pretty much standard. You’ll start with warm Dinner Rolls, served with a side of Whipped Butter.

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Next comes the Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad. During our visit, the salad included greens, hard boiled egg, radishes, and grape tomatoes. It’s lightly dressed with a creamy dressing.

Harvest-Inspired Farmer's Salad

Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad

The main course is the combination platter with sliced Homestyle Pot Roast, sliced Turkey Breast, and Italian Sausage served with sautéed Peppers and Onions. Sides on the platter include Mashed Potatoes and Bacon and Leek Stuffing.

The Italian Sausage is new, having replaced the previously served Sustainable Fish of the Day.

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

But that’s not all. You get additional veggie sides, like Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes, plus Macaroni and Cheese.

Platter of Sides -- Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

Platter of Sides — Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

For dessert, it’s a shareable Short Cake topped with Fruit Compote and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.

Short Cake

Short Cake

Some folks may call this a cobbler. Whatever name you give it, the rich cake and super saucy berry topping is a winner with everyone at the table.

Nosh or Not?

You’ll enjoy Garden Grill if:

  • You’re looking for a great character meal that combines great food, MICKEY, and more fun aspects
  • You have a nostalgic affinity for Epcot (Living with the Land!!!)
  • You’re touring Epcot with small children. The rest of the table service restaurants in Epcot can be ho hum for little kids.

You may want to skip Garden Grill if:

  • You’ve got a busy touring day and would rather stick to counter service
  • You’re in an adults-only party and nobody much cares about characters

Overall

After lots of visits, I still love Garden Grill Restaurant.

I think I’ve laid out a pretty convincing argument. When you visit Garden Grill, you’re getting a three-way combo of unique environment, great characters, and excellent (and plentiful) food. And when it comes to characters and kids, I personally lean toward a character meal where the food comes to you, because it’s so much easier to juggle kids, characters, and food when you don’t have to worry about visiting a buffet.

But even beyond the convenience of Garden Grill, the characters, and the novelty of the place, I think this place just offers really great food. It may be kind of standard fare, but it’s thoughtfully prepared. And when you’re paying Disney prices, it’s great when you can enjoy a character meal as much for the food as for everything else.

If you haven’t tried it before, book an advance dining reservation for Garden Grill Restaurant. I think you’ll be pleased.

Read Our Review of Garden Grill’s Breakfast Options Here!

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Is Garden Grill Restaurant one of your favorites? Let us know in comments!

Guest Review: Table Service Dinner at The Diamond Horseshoe in Magic Kingdom

Join us at the The Diamond Horseshoe. Recently guest author, Lori Fries, enjoyed dinner at this iconic spot in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. An all-you-care-to-eat feast will be offered through September 10, 2016.

The Diamond Horseshoe recently re-opened for table-service lunch and dinner in Frontierland.

We made an advance dining reservation (ADR) for The Diamond Horseshoe the first day we could. We ate dinner at 3:30PM, so I guess it was more of a late lunch/early dinner. We read one bad review from opening night, but as a local experienced Disney foodie I was excited to try something new.

Atmosphere

The horseshoe-shaped restaurant looks the same as it has for years.

The Diamond Horseshoe

The Diamond Horseshoe

Diamond Horseshoe Seating and Stage

Diamond Horseshoe Seating and Stage

On the stage sat a beautiful old-time player piano. [Read more…]

Review: Chef Mickey’s Dinner at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

It has been too long since I’ve taken a trip to Chef Mickey’s in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort!

We’ve shared with you our review of their breakfast buffet. But today, we’re heading there to see what’s new for dinner!

When many people think about a Disney character dining experience”, they immediately think of Chef Mickey’s. This one has it all — the Fab Five, a sprawling buffet of family-friendly foods, regular raucous celebrations, and monorails whizzing by.

But in the past, the food has had a reputation for being a little lackluster. Time to see how things are looking these days… . We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

One of the coolest things about Chef Mickey’s is its location. You’ll find this well-known character meal at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Chef Mickey's Sign

This place is a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, which makes it a great place to stop and eat before heading into the park, or after a long day of rides and attractions.

Once you enter the hotel’s main floor lobby, take the elevator to the fourth floor. Chef Mickey’s is located on the south end of the concourse, right below where the Disney World monorail enters the building. (You can also arrive at the Contemporary via said monorail, of course — in which case you’d take an escalator down to the 4th floor).

The Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary

Head to the central desk to let the hostess know that your party has arrived. You can’t miss it — Mickey is smiling down with his fork and spoon, ready to greet you!

Central Desk Check-In

If your table isn’t quite ready, you can wait until your party is paged in this comfortable seating area. This spot features a view of Bay Lake and the resort’s pool patio — and offers plenty of room for running off excess energy.

Waiting Area

Before you’re seated, your party will [Read more…]

Guest Review: Breakfast and Lunch at Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure

Welcome back guest author Carrie Hayward with a review of breakfast and lunch at Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Cars Land, Disney California Adventure!

This Spring we got to attend an Annual Passholder preview of Cars Land. Everything was open, including new counter-service restaurant Flo’s V-8 Cafe.

We are usually pretty disappointed by the counter-service options at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland (Jolly Holiday Bakery excepted!), but we waited in the 20-minute line with our hopes high. Who wouldn’t want to eat in a life-size replica of the stylish drive-in from Cars?

Flo's Really Shines at Night!

Atmosphere

Flo’s is HUGE inside, with four dining rooms.

The restaurant actually extends halfway down the block, but one wing is themed to an auto clinic [Read more…]

First Look: Flo’s V8 Cafe Revs Up for Business in Disney California Adventure!

A few weeks ago, I was able to get a media sneak peek and food preview of Cars Land.

While we were there, every single attendee was in awe of its landscape, then we were blown away even more when we were led into Flo’s V8 Cafe for a tasting!

Flo's V8 Cafe Signage

At that time, no photos were allowed. But, guess what? After 5 years, the time has come, the walls are down, and Flo’s is open for business!

Flo's Entrance

Flo’s V8 Cafe was modeled after a Route 66 stop called Midpoint Cafe in Midpoint, Texas.

And the backstory in Cars Land is that Flo’s caters to the growing number of Route 66 visitors and race fans coming to Radiator Springs, with a “showroom” dining area that overlooks the Radiator Springs Racers attraction. This is one of the amazing views…

Watch the Radiator Springs Racers and enjoy the view while you dine at Flo's!

Atmosphere

The minute you walk into Flo’s, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. To me, it felt like the scene in Back to the Future when Marty enters the soda fountain to find his dad, George McFly sitting there.

You’re in complete awe of the music, the colors, the decor; everything. Flo’s is, in fact, so gorgeous that they have a Photo Pass photographer set up with a tripod out front to take pictures of people in front of the restaurant!

Here’s some of the fun outside “decor” that makes Flo’s so much fun to [Read more…]

First Look! Food Photos From Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe in Disney California Adventure

Update: Check out the discreet integration of Starbucks into Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe.

We’ve had a great time sharing sneak peeks of many of the new dining locations opening soon in Disney California Adventure! Be sure to check out the great menu options at Flo’s V-8 Cafe, Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel, Carthay Circle Restaurant, Trolley Treats, and Clarabelle’s Ice Cream!

And one more of the places on Buena Vista Street I am really looking forward to is the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe. Why? Because Disney California Adventure NEEDS a good counter service spot where one can grab a great sandwich and a STARBUCKS beverage

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe

At a recent media preview I was able to check out some of the items that will be served at the Cafe, and it looks like there will be some pretty tasty options…

Menu

I got some great photos of the dishes that will be served here at the Fiddler. The first thing I noticed about the menu, though, was that the items appeared to be very similar to what is being served over in Disneyland at the Jolly Holiday Bakery

This is not a bad thing by any means; Jolly Holiday is fantastic! Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical will be serving a wide variety eats:

  • Breakfast: Freshly baked pastries & cinnamon rolls, breakfast sandwiches and wraps
  • Lunch and Dinner: Hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and two daily soups

A Sampler of Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe Offerings

I don’t have the “official” names of the sandwiches pictured below, but some appear to be identical to [Read more…]

Review: Gasparilla Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Tucked into one of Disney World’s most iconic resort hotels — The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa — Gasparilla Grill is one of the only restaurants open 24 hours in Walt Disney World!

Atmosphere

Gasparilla Grill is the the counter service location at the Grand Floridian and is sandwiched between the Grand Floridian Cafe and the Grand Floridian Kids’ Club.

It offers both hot and cold (grab-and-go) items as well as bakery items and soft-serve ice cream.

Gasparilla Entrance

Gasparilla Food Area

You’ll find plenty of seating inside and outside. Outdoor seating has a fantastic view of [Read more…]