Dining at 50’s Prime Time Café: Comfort Food with a Kitschy Vibe

by | May 21, 2024 | Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Food, WDW Blog

If you’ve ever wondered whether 50’s Prime Time Café was worth nabbing an advance dining reservation for, here’s what it’s like – both in delicious dishes and the dining experience.

While Walt Disney World has many highly themed restaurants, 50’s Prime Time Café within Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of its most unique. My family and I have eaten here on numerous occasions and have always enjoyed the experience.

The restaurant is located in the Echo Lake Section of Hollywood Studios, just across from Gertie the Dinosaur, and right next to Hollywood & Vine.

Step Back in Time Inside 50’s Prime Time Café

50's Prime Time Café interior, food on the stove

Stepping inside the restaurant means feeling like you’re back in the 1950s. Photo by Thomas Stefanchik

This restaurant is designed to look like a family kitchen from the 1950s, with plenty of kitschy period props, and the wait staff serve as your extended family (more on that later). Most tables feature a black and white TV showing clips from vintage era shows, including The Wonderful World of Disney. And while your children may not be familiar with Leave it to Beaver, Dennis the Menace, or The Dick Van Dyke Show (one of my family’s favorites), the clips nonetheless provide a welcome distraction.

While waiting for our name to be called, we visited Tune-In Lounge, the bar adjacent to the restaurant.  It has the same retro theming, with props and furniture that recall a family den or living room. After a short wait we were seated by my “Aunt Patty,” who reminded me that yesterday was her birthday, then scolded me for not sending her a card.  Naturally, I apologized. 

Dinner is Served: A Menu Filled With Comfort Food

50's Prime Time Café, eating around classic TV shows

You and the family will gather around the TV set for some classic American comfort food. Photo by Thomas Stefanchik

We started out with the beer-battered onion rings.  Served with horseradish sauce, the batter was a perfect golden brown and the onions inside (real onions, not filling) were crispy and delicious.  Another favorite appetizer of ours is the cornbread skillet, served warm with butter and honey.

One of the items 50’s Prime Time Café is most well known for is its Peanut Butter & Jelly Milk Shake, and recently they upped their game with an adult version, The Tune-In PBJ Cocktail.  Made with peanut butter whiskey (I didn’t even know that was a thing), blackberry brandy and Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur, it was as delicious as it sounds (and yes, it did taste like a PBJ).

For my entrée, I always have a hard time choosing between my three favorite dishes at Prime Time: Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken, Mom’s Old-Fashioned Pot Roast and Cousin Megan’s Traditional Meatloaf.  And so this time I chose A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes, which includes all three. 

The pot roast was served with a tasty brown gravy and the meatloaf with a tangy tomato glaze.  The real star of the sampling platter, however, was the fried chicken. (Be sure to tell your server which parts you like; I always order legs and thighs.) While any of these three dishes can easily be overcooked and dry, all were very moist and flavorful. 

As the food at Prime Time is very filling, my wife and I had decided to split the sample platter. (My one complaint about the platter; while there is enough pot roast and meatloaf to split, it only comes with one piece of fried chicken instead of two.)  I took the one piece of chicken, knowing that my wife would have leftovers from my son TJ, who always orders the fried chicken but never finishes it.  And though I explained all this to our server, “Cousin Oz,” he nonetheless scolded me for not sharing the chicken. Scolding Tom seemed to be a recurring theme that day.

My other son Luke had a Caesar Salad, with salmon added for an extra charge, that he really enjoyed. For desert we all split two servings of the Traditional Warm Apple Crisp, made even more mouth-watering with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Mind Your Manners (Or Else!)

Hang out in the Tune-In Lounge at 50's Prime Time Café

Hang out in the Tune-In Lounge at 50’s Prime Time Café and explore the highly authentic theming (complete with scoldings!) Photo by Thomas Stefanchik

Despite the scoldings I received that day, at Prime Time, there are much worse fates. Such offenses as leaving food on your plate, not placing your napkin on your lap or putting your elbows on the table may result in a lesson in etiquette from your server. On this particular day a group of young girls who did not finish their dinners had to bring their plates to the kitchen. On a previous day a father was told to stand in the corner and sing, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout.” (Not sure what his faux pas was, but I hope I never commit it!)

Of course if you don’t wish to partake in these shenanigans you can just notify your server, although the staff seem pretty good at sensing who wants to play along and who doesn’t. TJ is on the autism spectrum, and he would probably get upset if someone scolded him or called him out. However, to the credit of the staff here, no one has ever pushed his buttons.

Should You Eat at 50’s Prime Time Café? Here’s the Bottom Line

The prices at 50’s Prime Time Cafe are reasonable, for a theme park, with most appetizers ranging in price from $10 to $12, and most entrees ranging from $20 to $30.  There are also kids’ appetizer, entrée and beverage menus, with equally reasonable pricing.  And while the food selection is somewhat limited, both adults and kids can find something they like.

As with most table service restaurants at Walt Disney World, advanced dining reservations (ADRs) are highly recommended. That being said, we have never encountered a problem trying to make a reservation here, unlike with more popular eateries at this theme park, like Sci-Fi Dine-In or Roundup Rodeo BBQ

50’s Prime Time Café is all about comfort food and good times. So, bring a hearty appetite and a hearty sense of humor. Just keep those elbows down!

Posts by Thomas Stefanchik

Thomas J. Stefanchik has more than 30 years of professional experience writing and editing a diverse range of materials. His most recent writings have been concentrated on family travel. He is a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, has homes in New York and Florida, and would gladly trade both residences for a condo in World Showcase.

Authored by
Thomas Stefanchik

Thomas J. Stefanchik has more than 30 years of professional experience writing and editing a diverse range of materials. His most recent writings have been concentrated on family travel. He is a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, has homes in New York and Florida, and would gladly trade both residences for a condo in World Showcase.
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