50’s Prime Time Café
If you are looking for a nice quiet meal with little Cast Member interaction, do NOT go to the 50’s Prime Time Café! But if you’re looking for great food at relatively reasonable prices and a REALLY fun experience (that can get a tad loud at times), this is the place for you!
50’s Prime Time Cafe is a table service restaurant that specializes in American comfort food the way mom would have made it in the 1950s. The restaurant is almost always busy and usually noisy, and the terrific Cast Members who serve you make the experience fun and unforgettable. The “shtick” here is that you are treated the same way a family would be if it was the 1950s. The wait staff are your “relatives” and will say things like “Take your elbows off the table!” and “Surely you can finish that one last bite!”
Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, 50’s Prime Time Cafe can be a hard place to reserve, so if you’re interested in checking it out, book as early as possible. There are usually tables available for walk-up if you’re willing to wait (you can approach the podium OR sign up for the waitlist using the My Disney Experience App), but of course, success will vary depending on the time of the year and how crowded the parks are.
It’s easy to get into the mood of things, as the whole restaurant has a 50s look. 50’s Prime Time Cafe’s theming is all about retro kitsch. There are antique refrigerators, laminated tables, sunburst clocks, and decoupage art seen all through the eatery. Most tables are set up like miniature 50’s kitchens, with a small black and white TV that plays shows from the 1950s.
Older guests will recall the shows played on the TVs, such as I Married Joan, My Little Margie, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and other classic 50s sitcoms. For the younger guests, it’s a blast to see old black and white shows from the “fabulous 50’s”.
The ambiance of the restaurant and the “show” put on by the Cast Members at 50’s Prime Time Cafe is what makes it unique. Be sure to take off your hat, and eat all your veggies! The more guests “get into” the fun, the more your server will do the same. The wait staff seems to be very good at recognizing which groups want to get silliest and which would rather dine without too many jokes. The last time I was there with a friend, she was called out for putting her elbows on the table, and the waiter did his best to get me to finish my green beans. Of course, it was done lightheartedly and we laughed. There’s plenty of positive fun, too; for example, when you finish all your food, you are rewarded with a “Clean Plate Club” sticker.
What about the food? The menu choices are a bit more limited than some of the other Disney World options, but it’s all tasty. Through the years, I have tried and enjoyed every single item offered from the standard menu. Most of the dishes are classic comfort food, such as pot roast, fried chicken, and meatloaf. I tried the salmon that was the blue plate special last time I was there, and I thought it was excellent. My friend enjoyed her fried chicken, and we split two desserts, the brownie and the apple crisp; both were delicious.
We also liked the onion rings appetizer. The milkshakes are amazing; the daring can try peanut butter and jelly shakes; there are also standard chocolate and vanilla. Coca-Cola Cherry are an option, as are other soft drinks and adult beverages. There are vegan and allergy-free choices, as well as a kid’s menu. Here is the current menu as of April 2022: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/hollywood-studios/50s-prime-time-cafe/menus/ As you can see, the restaurant serves both lunch and dinner. Hours are generally 11:00-3:55 for lunch and 4:00-7:00 for dinner, but this can vary according to season.
The Tune-In Lounge is attached to the restaurant. Currently, it is the bar for the restaurant; at one time, guests could walk up and eat there (ordering from the same menu as the full restaurant) if seats were available. Hopefully, that will return, but it’s still worth walking through to check out the cool décor in the area.
I was born in the mid-50s, and I remember almost all of the TV shows and the various décor at the 50’s Prime Time Café (many of the TV shows I saw in syndication as a child, and the décor was still very much in vogue in the early to mid-60s). The theming really is amazing, and for those who remember it, a trip back in time. Even the Cast Member costumes are 50’s retro. For guests who weren’t around during the 50s, it’s a fun way to imagine what life was like for many families back then. To get to the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, walk up Hollywood Boulevard and make a left in front of Echo Lake. Go past the restaurant called Hollywood and Vine, and you’ll see the 50’s Prime Time Café on your left.