Disney has countless themed restaurants, each one more unique than the next. One of my favorites is in Hollywood Studios, and it takes the shape of a family home in the 1950’s. The 50’s Prime Time Cafe really pulls out all the stops, and eating there is more of an entertainment experience than anything else.
The lobby of the cafe is decorated like a suburban living room, with big, comfy couches and TV screens playing black and white sitcoms. The hosts and hostesses yell out names across the room and really play up the atmosphere as if they’re calling you to dinner at home.
The restaurant itself is set up like an old-fashioned kitchen, and the entire aesthetic is really authentic, right down to the classic television sets. But the best apart about eating at 50’s Prime Time Cafe is the interactions with the waiters and waitresses. These people are just as dedicated as the park’s character performers, and really nail their role as strict 50’s figures. They’ll scold you for putting your elbows on the table and ask you to set the table to take dishes back to the kitchen. And watch out if you don’t finish your food! The experience here is always hilarious, especially for first timers that don’t know what to expect. The food is classic diner/mom’s kitchen style, and it’s usually a decent meal. More than anything, you should check out 50’s Prime Time for an experience you won’t find anywhere else in Disney.
If you’re staying at Disney for an extended period of time, or you’re traveling with an older crowd that isn’t as interested in the parks, consider visiting Downtown Disney. It’s a strip along the water full of shops, restaurants, interactive games, and nightlife.
There are some brand name stores along the strip, including Sunglass Hut and apparel from House of Blues and The Rainforest Cafe. Many of the shops are Disney specialties, including the enormous merchandise store, World of Disney; the Art of Disney collectible shop; and the sweet Goofy’s Candy Company. You can purchase just about anything along the strip. There are plenty of dining options as well, like Wolfgang Puck’s fancy cuisine, Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe, or an assortment of food trucks.
You’ll also want to check out some of the entertainment that Downtown Disney has to offer, including a movie theater, a bowling alley, and performances like Cirque de Soleil and concerts at the House of Blues. Young guests might also enjoy DisneyQuest, a unique interactive theme park with high-tech games.
Downtown Disney is currently under renovation, though their website says that over 70 establishments remain open through construction. The expansion will be called Disney Springs, and is expected to double the amount of shops, dining, and entertainment options.
The Disney Dining Plan can be purchased as part of you vacation package, and is a method of budgeting your expenses that will provide you with tokens (stored on your MagicBand) that can be redeemed for various meals and snacks throughout the parks. There are different tiers of the plan that are paired with certain hotels, and during particular dates throughout the year, the Dining Plan is offered for free. How does this work? Let’s take a look:
Quick Service Plan: includes two counter-service meals and one snack per day at $42/day; offered for free with Value resort rooms
Standard Dining Plan: includes one counter-service meal, one sit-down meal, and one snack per day at $60/day; offered for free with Moderate and Deluxe resort rooms
Deluxe Dining Plan: three meals (either counter-service or sit-down) and two snacks per day at $110/day; not offered for free
The three types of meals offered (counter-service, sit-down, and snacks) can be purchased at specific types of restaurants. Counter-service are your fast food type places, like Casey’s Corner, Gaston’s Tavern, and Liberty Inn. On the plan, you would generally pick up lunch at one of these spots. Sit-down meals are your fancier restaurants, and you would ideally use these for nice dinners. They can be redeemed at places like 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Mama Melrose, and Le Cellier Steakhouse. Snacks can be purchased at kiosks throughout the parks.
Because tokens are not affected by price, you can use one to purchase an entree that costs any amount. That is to say, a sit-down restaurant token could be used to buy a $15 salad, or a $25 steak. In this way, if you utilize the tokens effectively and manage your meals beforehand, the Dining Plan can wind up saving you a lot of money. This isn’t always the case though, and poor planning might make the plan not worth it in the end. It all depends on how you can budget your tokens. Look into where you would like to eat beforehand to determine whether or not the Dining Plan would work for your trip.
The free promotion can be a good thing to take advantage of, but remember that selecting it for your trip would mean that you cannot receive the room discount offered at the same time—look for another post coming soon about knowing which discount to apply.
Looking for an old-fashioned, out-of-park dining option? Stop by the Beach Club hotel, near the back of Epcot’s World Showcase, and check out this classic take on a 50’s soda shop. Beaches & Cream boasts one of the best burgers on Disney property, and is famous for the delightfully challenging dessert, The Kitchen Sink.
This hidden gem is one of my favorite places to eat at Disney World – it’s perfect for a light and flavorful lunch or dinner, and its fantastic dessert selection makes it a popular nighttime hot spot. It’s got such a great theme, and the wait staff is always friendly and helpful. Compared to other park dining options, Beaches & Cream is relatively cheap, and you certainly get what you pay for in terms of proportions. I would highly recommend giving this classic seaside diner a try!
Images courtesy of disneyfoodblog.com, themellosandthemouse.blogspot.com, and onlywdworld.com.
Consider yourself a cuisine connoisseur? Stop by World Showcase from mid-September to mid-November and dine your way across all eleven countries! This fun fall event boasts nearly 30 international marketplaces, culinary demonstrations and dining experiences with professional chefs, and even an “Eat to the Beat” concert series. The 2014 event is currently scheduled for September 19th to November 10th.
Image provided by disneyworld.disney.go.com.