Thursday, January 9, 2014

50s Prime Time Cafe

The first time I went to the 50’s Prime Time Café at Hollywood Studios, I thought I’d just walked into my grandmother’s house. It really is like stepping back in time.  It's full of 50’s kitsch, with tchotchkes and knick-knacks at every turn.

The waiting area looks more like a living room in someone’s house than the entry way of a restaurant. It's full of couches, chairs and coffee tables that look like they were borrowed straight from a 1950's home. There are even antique style televisions that play old Disney shorts. After what is usually a brief wait, a cast member, who are called by family names in this restaurant, will take you to your table.

The tables are also themed. The areas look like the seating you’d find in a 50s kitchen, complete with windows, period wallpaper, and lots and lots of authentic decorations, such as cookie jars and built-in sideboards. Once, we were seated at a table with a tiny television that played shorts from the Mickey Mouse Club and Father Knows Best. We’ve eaten here three times and really loved it every time.

On our first visit, we were served by Cousin Diane, who was perfectly in character the entire meal. She took my friend to task repeatedly for having his elbows on the table, and kept calling him Scooter. She made him terribly nervous and he kept looking for her every time he put his arms down. The last time she caught him, she made him stand in the corner and hold a sugar packet to the wall with his nose. He fought it and even tried to buy his way free, but Cousin Diane stood firm. Then she announced to the entire restaurant how he’d been naughty and had everyone say “Shame, Shame, Shame.” My sister, Bean, and I were cracking up!

On our second visit, we were served by Uncle Mark. He was hilarious, teasing Bean with just the right amount of humor to keep her laughing. She ordered the Mickey's BeeBop Drink, which is like a Shirley Temple made with Sprite, and comes with a glowing ice cube. When the drink first arrived, she decided it wasn’t “pink enough”. Uncle Mark took her back by the kitchen and had her say “when” as he added extra cherry syrup. By the time she finally said “when”, the drink was bright red, but she loved it! I had ordered the Glowing Character Punch, which is Minutemaid Light Lemonade in a souvenir cup, with a light-up character clipped to the top (I got Buzz Lightyear!) I had asked to have Pomegranate syrup added to my lemonade, which Uncle Mark was happy to do. Later, when he brought me a refill, he also brought me a second glass with cherry lemonade, as red as the drink Bean had ordered. It was really funny.

During our third trip, my dad and I were celebrating our birthdays. Aunt Marnie was our server and she was absolutely hysterical! When we sat down, she took our drink order and gave us a homework assignment. We had to write down as many single word Disney movie titles as we could. We were supposed to get 20, but we could only come up with 18. After we finished our dinners, Aunt Marnie brought my dad and I  birthday cupcakes and sang the most loud and off-key rendition of Happy Birthday I have ever heard. We were all laughing until we cried. It was fantastic!

Bean is a bit of a picky eater, so the first time she ordered chicken nuggets, which originally came with mashed potatoes. The second time it was part of the Kids Picks, so she ordered the chicken noodle soup and fries instead. The meal also came with a kids' Build Your Own sundae. She liked everything, except the mashed potatoes, a lot.

They also have healthier options, such as Grilled Chicken Strips with Macaroni & Marinara, or Grilled Fish with Whole Grain Pilaf. My sister had Dad’s Traditional Meatloaf and said it was wonderful. I have had both Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken, and Cousin Eric's Char-grilled Chicken Sandwich. I loved the sandwich, but the fried chicken was just basic fried chicken, nothing special. Overall, the food is 50’s style family fair, with a large selection of specialty drinks, with and without alcohol. Prices range from $14 to $20 for adult entrees and $8 for kids meals. And don’t forget the dessert menu, which you will find on a Viewmaster. A truly decadent choice would be Dad's Brownie Sundae. It's a brownie covered in chocolate sauce, whipped cream, M&Ms, and caramel popcorn, with Mickey sprinkles and a cherry on top! 

If you don’t have a good sense of humor, this restaurant may not be for you. The cast members will pick on you to eat your veggies, keep your elbows off the table, and mind your manners, but it’s all in good fun. On occasion, you may be startled by the tricks the cast members play; I have had a 5 foot straw poked into my hair from around a corner on more than one occasion. At first, I was a little annoyed, until I realized that it wasn’t the kids at the next table, but an adult Cousin who worked at the restaurant, so definitely expect the unexpected.

If you do eat your entire meal, you can get a “Clean Plate Club” sticker. Bean loved this because she adores stickers and it may help you to convince your child to finish their meal. The best part of the 50’s Prime Time Café is the atmosphere, both the authentic decorations and the zany “Family Members”. So, if you want to take a quick trip back in time, make a reservation for the 50’s Prime Time Café.

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