We visited Hollywood Studios’s 50’s Prime Time Cafe for the first time recently, and I hope to return there someday — although not for the reasons you would probably think.
But first let’s back up a little. 50’s Prime Time Cafe is described as “Classic American comfort food,’50s kitsch and a good old-fashioned family gathering that takes you back to a bygone era.” Apparently they’ve worked very hard to make the decor completely authentic, which is kinda cool.
My daughter Rebecca is always on the lookout for Hidden Mickeys, and she found this one on one of the tables in the lobby/waiting area.
I actually expected this to be one of those “the food isn’t great, but the atmosphere is fun” places from what I’d read, but I was pleasantly surprised. I got the salmon and broccoli and thought it was quite tasty and very “healthy-tasting,” meaning it didn’t taste greasy or fatty or overly processed or anything.
The milkshakes were HUGE and the Peanut Butter and Jelly Milkshake was really good. Like, really really really good. Since we were on the Disney Dining Plan, we all got dessert in addition to the ridiculously huge milkshakes, so we packed up some pineapple upside-down cake for later, and that was also very good (not amazing, but very good).
But here’s the problem: I felt like we got totally cheated on our whole experience there.
I had heard the Prime Time Cafe was all about a “schtick” where you’re at a family reunion with all your cousins, and “Mom” interacts with you during the meal. I’d read stories about getting scolded and lectured, or having your server actually pick up your fork to feed you your vegetables.
The girls and I couldn’t wait: We were expecting more of improv show than a meal.
Well, when we arrived, we had a male waiter. He told us, “This is Mom’s kitchen, and we follow Mom’s rules. Elbows off the table! Eat all your veggies!” He introduced us to the people at the next table, who gave us a friendly greeting.
Oh boy, I thought. This is gonna be fun!
Well, unfortunately … that was pretty much the end of it.
After that it was just like any other restaurant. The food was brought to us without any fanfare. Nothing amusing or unusual happened. Rachael made a point of finishing everything on her plate, and when I announced this to the waiter (because I’d heard there was some sort of reward for this), he simply said something like, “Ah, good job,” then took the plate and left.
Meanwhile, I saw a female waitress serving the two tables next to us on the other side. Again and again I saw her talking to the people at one of the tables (which her back to us, so I couldn’t hear her), and everybody would laugh.
As we were leaving, I said to Rachael, “I can’t believe you didn’t get anything for eating everything on your plate.”
A waitress heard me and said, “What? You didn’t get anything for cleaning your plate?” and went to get a roll of “Clean Plate Club” stickers, which she draped around Rachael. I’m glad we at least got that, but it made me more convinced that we got a raw deal with our own waiter.
So … that’s why I hope we can go back there someday. Not because it was the greatest restaurant in the world, but because I feel like we got shafted, and I want us to go and hopefully have it be “right” the next time.
Plus I can’t stop thinking about those peanut butter and jelly milkshakes.