Let’s Dine Back in Time: A Review of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ 50’s Prime Time Café

For dinner tonight, let’s time warp back to the 1950’s, where black & white televisions were one of the hottest commodities, milkshakes were the best drink every made and mom’s home cooking was what every diner in town was trying to replicate.  If the idea of talking sock hops, watching I Love Lucy re-runs, and hearing Mom telling you to keep your elbows off the table peaks your interest, then 50’s Prime Time Café is one restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios you do NOT want to miss experiencing!

My husband and I first experienced 50’s Prime Time Café back in 1999 when we were still just a twosome and literally weeks before we found out we were pregnant with our first son.   My mother, who grew up in the 1950’s and loved nostalgia, had raved about this place for years and always spoke of its entertaining quality.   Well, as we were all about “experiencing” Disney to the fullest, we made the reservation.  Unfortunately, that first experience for us fell flat as our Cast Member was apparently having a bad day, and we’re not talking as part of her character either.  She lacked wit and humor and didn’t seem as though she wanted to play along.   Nonetheless, that didn’t stop us from trying it again when we went for the first time years later as a family of five. This time it was different!   We were greeted with character, entertained with character and dined with character!  Our server dished up bowl-fulls of sarcasm, wit, humor and motherly advice.   Our three boys ate it up!   From scolding our sons for keeping their elbows on the table (they were doing it on purpose) to reprimanding someone for not finishing his vegetables (hmmmm…), she made the experience worth it and gave us reason to want to come back.

50's Prime Time Cafe located at Disney's Hollywood Studios ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
50’s Prime Time Cafe located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

Fast forward to the mother / middle son trip you have been reading about.  Aaryn was all about trying 50’s Prime Time Café again.  Since we had pretty much  finished the rotation of Disney’s Hollywood Studios current table service options, I agreed to repeat the experience.  Besides, I was in for a little fun at lunch anyway.  Though the greeting was a little dry, we just had to be patient because we were about to embark upon one of the best dining experiences we had had in some time.

The wait was a tad longer than expected, but not too terribly long after our actual reservation  time.   We were escorted to our seats as anyone would be at a restaurant and placed directly in the middle of two other larger families.   We were a little intimidated at first and felt a little claustrophobic, but our server immediately “opened the windows and doors” and introduced us to each other.  We were all now known as “cousins.”   We had “cousins” from New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania eating dinner to the left and right of us…I mean WITH us.  It was a Northeast reunion of sorts.  Christian, our server, was a tall, skinny fellow who, at first, rubbed me the wrong way in that everything that came out of his mouth seemed a bit snarky.   Okay, okay – yes, that was a chance I was taking, but I wasn’t sure I wanted the whole meal to be like that.  Right from the get-go, Christian delivered wit and humor, instantly engaging in sarcastic banter back and forth with my son.   Aaryn, of course, thoroughly enjoyed delivering it right back and was pretty quick at his retorts.   Christian was quite impressed and continued engaging throughout the meal, but he was fair and spent a great deal of time messing with each of the other families, as well.   At one point, he even found himself sitting in between our table and one other, as if he had been invited to dinner himself.

Christian, our server at 50's Prime Time Cafe at DHS ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Christian, our server at 50’s Prime Time Cafe at DHS ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

Dinner was served and it looked delicious.  It was another tremendous meal.  Aaryn had ordered the pot roast and I had the fried chicken.   This is where I had opportunity to see Christian break from character just a bit (for the right reasons) and show he had heart, that he actually cared about being our server.   My meal did not specify on the menu what kind of vegetable accompanied the main course and I had forgotten to ask, but it was a vegetable that I cannot tolerate (not an allergy, just an intolerance).  When I asked Christian to come closer so I could quietly ask him a question and explain the situation, he was completely focused on making it right. He immediately and without hesitation returned to the kitchen to plate some vegetables we knew I could eat.  He let my son eat the ones I could not.  That was the moment in the meal that put me the most at ease and allowed me to enjoy the rest of the experience even more.

Mom's Old-Fashioned Pot Roast at 50's Prime Time Cafe ~ photo by T.M. Brown
Mom’s Old-Fashioned Pot Roast at 50’s Prime Time Cafe ~ photo by T.M. Brown
Aunt Liz's Golden Fried Chicken at 50's Prime Time Cafe ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken at 50’s Prime Time Cafe ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

From that point on, the banter between Aaryn and Christian escalated and it was hilarious.  Christian seemed pretty impressed with Aaryn’s ability to keep up, not to mention the fact that Aaryn had finished his entire plate…including two sets of vegetables!  When it came to dessert, I was completely full and had no room for it, but that didn’t stop Christian from recognizing the fact that Aaryn and I were both celebrating our birthdays that trip and he delivered to each of us the always-welcomed birthday cupcake.   To top off the entertainment, he rallied our entire section to sing “Happy Birthday” to us…….and that made our smile grow three times the size it already was.

50’s Prime Time Café is an experience, a dining attraction.  It is something I highly recommend at least once to everyone visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  If by chance your experience is not as magical the first time, try it again!  Cast Members have bad days, too.   Bank on the fact that the food is delicious – I mean, Aaryn could not get enough of his pot roast meal!  We will never forget Christian and look forward to hopefully seeing him again should we venture to dine “back in time” when we return to Walt Disney World as a family.

Christian and Aaryn at 50's Prime Time Cafe ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Christian and Aaryn at 50’s Prime Time Cafe ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

Have you experienced 50’s Prime Time Café?  I would love to hear your story – What did you eat?  What kind of experience did your server provide you?  Would you go back?

PS – Since we were dining without the fear of food allergies in our midst this trip, Aaryn had the peanut butter and jelly milkshake and says it was to die for!!

Until the next step ~ T

6 thoughts on “Let’s Dine Back in Time: A Review of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ 50’s Prime Time Café”

  1. I love your review! This is one of my favorite places at Hollywood Studios. I love the gluten free fried chicken. Of the dozen or so times we have gone, there have been a handful of servers that lack charm.

    I do think that it was much more entertaining years ago. My husband was forced to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” for the entire room when he was caught trying to hide his vegetables in his milk shake container.

    1. Thanks, Patty! The kids are quite eager to go back soon, but goodness – I can only imagine how hard you were all laughing when your husband had to sing in front of everyone! LOL!!!!

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