Nothing Like Mom’s Cooking

Everyone says there is no better place to eat than Mom’s house. (But you should always take her out for Mother’s Day.) I think that’s why the Walt Disney company put “Mom” in the kitchen at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The 50’s Prime Time Cafe has been a staple of the Hollywood Studios park since it’s opening in 1989 and it still continues to draw a big crowd. It’s a unique dining experience that plays a large part in the overall theme of the park as well as adding to the theme of Hollywood Blvd. and it’s timeline story. It’s been one of my favorites since my first time eating there and continues to be within my top 5 restaurants at Walt Disney World. (Sorry Sci-Fi Lovers!)

So what’s the big deal about the Prime Time Cafe? Well, lets start with the general experience before digging deeper into the back story of this established restaurant. At it’s core, the 50’s Prime Time Cafe is a fun place to eat with some great at-home favorites. Does your dad make awesome meatloaf? So do the folks here. It’s the food you love the most from home in the middle of your vacation. At it’s simplest, this is good classic American food.

On top of the already great food, mix in some great 1950’s home decor and cast members that take this place to the extreme. Anyone who knows my mom will tell you that she would always make you eat your vegetables, and it is no different at the Prime Time Cafe, except instead of it being my mom, it’s a cast member pretending to be my distant Aunt Caroline. The cast members here, like in so many other Disney experiences, make all the differences. From when you walk in the door, you are one of the “kids” here to eat, and while “Mom” is cooking in the kitchen, everyone else in the family has been put to work to keep the dining room busy. I’ve seen my “cousin” jump out the restaurant window, my “uncle” playing with his food, and my”aunt” tormenting other guests who put their elbows on the table. Depending on your server, you’ll be laughing most of your time here.

If you are an adult that loves beverages, the Tune-In Lounge looks like Dad’s den with televisions, couches, and a fantastic bar with an fun menu of classic cocktails. Rarely do I find a bartender that knows how to make a sidecar, a brown derby, or a good old fashioned, but this place has those bartenders, and you feel like you are at a 1950’s house party when you are here. (Like the one at the beginning of “Blast From the Past”. If only Christopher Walken was the bartender!)

So why is this place here? It’s strange, edgy, and different from anywhere else in Walt Disney World, and from the outside, looks like it might not fit in at the Hollywood Studios park. The truth is, it’s part of the biggest storyline at the Studios park, but it is also the most subtle. When Disney’s Hollwood Studios was built, it was a tribute to the golden age of Hollywood, which most would say is the 1920s through the 1950s when television became the new medium for entertainment and Hollywood Blvd., whether you know it or not, takes you on a journey through this period. For the most part, the architecture tells the story here but there are clues that you are traveling through time as you walk down Hollywood Blvd. into the Echo Lake area. For example, the Darkroom retail shop has a sign saying “Established 1938” while walking down the street will lead you to Oscar’s service station which has a 1940’s wrecker parked in front of it. Subtle notes that lead you chronologically through the “Golden Age”. Echo Lake is the end of that timeline, which leads us to two specific and unique restaurants, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Both are significant because of the popularity of the Drive-In Theaters in the 1950s as well as the craze that television became. However, as television became popular, the stars of the film industry lost their luster and the changing of entertainment as we know it.

The 50s Prime Time Cafe has one of the most important roles in the timeline story as it marks the end of the era the park represents, but promises a fun and entertaining new medium. Television shows like I Love Lucy and the Dick Van Dyke show play in the restaurant on the televisions that seem to be everywhere. They depict a new age as does the restaurant itself with its seemingly out-of-control cast members but also supply a sense of comfort with the menu of food it delivers.   Whether you know this long lasting diner’s history or not, it’s a great place to step out of the sun, have fun, and enjoy a great meal during your Disney vacation, but knowing the story now makes it all the richer.

Have you experienced the 50s Prime Time Cafe? What do you think of the place? Give your thoughts on this weeks post and until next time, take care!

Josh Taylor
Follow my on Twitter: @kidredo

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Posted on May 3, 2012, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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