Disney Dining – Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

In theory, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios sounds like a winning place to enjoy a casual lunch or dinner.  A tribute to the drive-in theaters of old along with those cheesy horror movies from the ’50’s, ’60’s and ’70’s and a menu of classic American entrees and sides…it’s bound to be great, right?sci-fi-dine-in-menu

Disney Dining – Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

We gave this place a try for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  Here’s the verdict:

What we liked:  This place is certainly unique.  We thought the theme was fun, the movie clips hilarious, and the menu broad enough for everyone to find something they were happy with.  Our server was good – she was taking the orders of seven people split between two cars and managed to make us all feel like she was sincere and attentive.  The beer was cold and delicious and our meals arrived in a timely manner.  The food was okay.  Better than typical fast-food, which is good because it was a little pricey (and hard to photograph in the dark!). sci-fi-dine-in-sandwich

What we didn’t like:  The waiting area and the hostess left much to be desired.  Our first impression wasn’t a good one.  We didn’t wait long afraid ter we checked in, but the area we sat in was disappointing compared to other places like 50’s Prime Time Café.  The hostess was so bland and monotone, I thought maybe it was some sort of act.  I’m still not sure, because she never smiled, made little eye contact and spoke in a deep voice devoid of inflection.  She walked us to our car-tables as if she was headed to the gallows.  This made us feel rather like a burden.sci-fi-dine-in-darkness

Our tables were split between two cars with Raymond and I in the back of a car with a random family of four – this seemed weird to me and made me wish I’d done more research on how a party of our size would be handled.  The other five in our group were in the car next to us, but far enough away that conversation with them was impossible.sci-fi-dine-in-ticket

What would get us to eat there again?  We’d go back again if we were with someone who would get a big kick out of the movie clips and drive-in experience.  Ideally, we’d be with an even-numbered party of four or six so we could all eat in one vehicle.  sci-fi-dine-in-signProbably the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater will now be in our once-and-done category simply because I expect the Star Wars expansion to bring with it new dining experiences for us to try.  And I like the food at 50’s Prime Time Café better.

Have you tried Sci-Fi Dine-In?  How was your experience?

Looking Back: Star Wars’ Rebel Hangar Lounge at DHS

Hooray for the weekend!!!  Today let’s go back with Nick to last year’s final Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – specifically to the ultra cool Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience.  I like to believe that while Star Wars Weekends are no more, the Rebel Hangar was a preview of the most excellent experiences we can expect in the future at the Studios as Star Wars Land becomes a reality and Star Wars is not relegated to a few weekends each year, but becomes a fully immersive adventure we can experience any time we visit.

Looking Back: Star Wars’ Rebel Hangar Lounge at DHS

By Nick

The Rebel Hangar Lounge at the Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios was held nightly through the end of Star Wars Weekends on June 14th, 2015.

This new spot to hang out and have appetizers, cocktails and sweet treats was originally only slated to be open during Star Wars Weekends…on the weekends, but interest was so high, it was made a daily offering!

Let me relate my experience with not only booking during the initial weekend period, but also the very lucky sneak peak I got of this great experience.

When it was first announced on the Disney Parks Blog on May 5th, just a little over a week before my trip, I immediately got on the phone with Josh, one of the 2 friends I was going to be traveling to Walt Disney World with to have a guys geek out weekend, and asked if “The Lounge” would be something he would be interested in, and if I should call our other friend, Joe. He said “Book it, Joe will be fine with it.” I got on the phone to make an ADR. I was told it was already sold out! This was only a few hours after it was officially announced! This didn’t stop me from trying though. I went online to the Disney’s official dining page, and found Rebel Hangar Lounge. As I talked to Josh, telling him we should periodically call or check the dining page, I absentmindedly clicked on different days and times, and BOOM-there was an opening for 820PM for Sunday 5/17 and I immediately booked!

Fast forward to the first day of our trip, Thursday 5/14, and Joe, Josh and I were walking towards the back of the park after a very filling buffet, Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine, which I will be reviewing in the coming days, so please stop back. There was a couple of people talking to Cast Members behind a podium at Backlot Express, home of the Rebel Hangar. I walked over to check out the decorations, and started taking photos.

A very nice man, (I really wish I’d gotten his name, in fact, I wish I could remember every Cast Member’s name, as they were all wonderful) asked if we’d heard of the Rebel Hangar. We told him we had indeed, and would be visiting that very weekend. He then explained they were having a preview for executives, and asked if we’d like to see the menu.

We said certainly, and as we looked, he asked “How would you like to come in and check it out, maybe have a bite to eat and a cocktail?” Um, yes!

As we entered, we explained we’d just eaten, but would love a cocktail, and he said that was fine.

We were seated, and within moments, Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, aka, the Cantina Band, came out to entertain us. As there was literally only 2 other guests, excluding the executives, who were in another area, they spent several minutes with us taking photos and showing off their musical instruments and skills!

 Me and Dan. At least, I think that’s Dan.
Joe and his new friend. (Joe is on the right, by the way.)
 Joe, Josh and me with the Band.

We were all given menus, and each of us chose a different drink.

I got the Imperial Blue – Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Cointreau, Bols Blue Curacao, and sweet and sour topped with Sprite, which was $10.25 on the menu.

 Joe chose the Dagobah Swamp Juice – Midori, Tito’s handmade vodka, sweet and sour, topped with lemon-lime Fomz, $14.75.

Josh had the Tatooine Sunset – Stoli Vanil Vodka, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, pineapple juice and grenadine, $9.25.

As we were enjoying these, the hit being the Dagobah Swamp Juice, when Sabine and Ezra, from the Star Wars Rebels animated series, came out.

We were also convinced to give a couple of food items a try, despite being so full, and we chose the 2 selections that had the most visual appeal, Chips and Sith, chickpea and lentil hummus with roasted red pepper coulis, black sesame dust and multi-colored corn tortilla chips, which is $8.49 on the menu, and the Yoda Key Lime Cake, $7.99. The hummus was very good, the Key Lime Cake was amazing!

We were also offered another round of drinks! How could we refuse? This time, I got the Rebel Red – Grey Goose vodka, Chambord, sweet and sour, and grenadine, priced at $15.25 on the menu. This was good, but very sweet.

Finally, as we were finishing our adult beverages, that bounty hunter with the bad eyesight or slow trigger finger, depending on which version of Star Wars you are watching, Greedo, came out!

As we exited, I stopped and took some pics of the various decorations on the walls and tables.

 

So, after an experience like this, how could our Sunday visit possibly match up? Well, to put it bluntly, it couldn’t.
For one thing, there was barely a character to be found. We spoke to our Cast Member friend from our previous visit, who explained that there had been more members of the Star Wars galaxy roaming the lounge earlier in the evening, but the reason Disney was not promoting this as a character dining experience was these visits were random. As he was saying this, the only characters we saw that evening, 2 Jawas, came out.

The other problem was where we were seated. The corner we were in faced the ramp leading to the Backlot Express area, which was clearly visible, somewhat detracting from the experience.

This table is also directly under a vent, so cold air was constantly blowing on us, which not only made us chilly, but quickly cooled down the hot food we’d ordered.
We all got our favorite cocktail from the previous visit, the Dagobah Swamp Juice. This time, it came with a clip on X-Wing Fighter. Note: You can order the drinks without the X-Wing, even though that isn’t advertised, which knocks about $5 off the price!

For food, we ordered several of the small plates to share. The highlight was the Lightsaber Bites for $11.49. These are hand-dipped and corn-battered knockwurst sausages with house-made chips and honey-mustard dipping sauce.

These were delicious, as were the house made chips, which also came with the Slider Sampler: The Sith and the Jedi, Barbecue pulled pork brisket with coleslaw and barbecue pulled chicken with arugula for $9.99. The pork was good, but the chicken was just so-so. I wouldn’t get this dish again.

At $11.49, the Trio of Thermal Detonators, pork wings with spicy piquillo pepper sauce served with coleslaw were also pretty good, but again, I likely wouldn’t order these on another visit either.

The Pilot’s Pommes Frites , aka French Fries, which came with a garlic aiolic and cost $5.49, were really tasty, but did not stay warm long under the vent. I would certainly get these again however.

Would I recommend this experience. ABSOLUTELY. For one, it isn’t outrageously priced. You can enjoy the experience for under $20, depending on what you order. And I would love to try the other items we didn’t order, especially the Ilum Fruit and Cheese Sabers, skewers of Tillamook cheddar, mild brie, goat cheese, olives and seasonal berries with crostini and cheddar cracker $12.99 and The Dark Fried, crispy chicken and mini-Darth Vader waffles served with maple syrup and barbecue sauce $14.99.

But I highly recommend you ask to be seated in an area that immerses you in the theme, or even outside on a nice evening.

Want to read more about Nick’s Disney adventures?  Visit the Disney Musings Blog and follow Nick on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.  You can also listen to Nick, our friend Dave, and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about….well, I bet you can guess.

STAR WARS Breakfast! at Sci-Fi

Happy Saturday, Everyone!  Last week we looked back at Star Wars Weekends and the Jedi Mickey dining experience at Hollywood and Vine.  This week, we’re also going back to the very last Star Wars Weekends and Nick’s adventures with his buddies at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater.  I don’t know about you, but I think Disney used last year’s Star Wars Weekends to test new concepts and ideas for the new Star Wars Land.  Please share your thoughts on this.

STAR WARS Breakfast! at Sci-Fi

By Nick

On the last morning of my trip with 2 buddies to Walt Disney World to check out Star Wars Weekends, we had breakfast at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast runs through June 14th, and features Star Wars characters, such as Darth Vader and Boba Fett, who greet you as you enter.

Boba Fett, Josh, me, Joe, Darth Vader

If you haven’t been to Sci-Fi, it is set up like a drive in theater on a lovely evening, complete with classic cars, which serve as your tables.

During normal operating hours, a movie loop featuring cheesy Sci-Fi movies is played, but during this event Star Wars clips, trivia and previews were up on the big screen.

We were shown to our car. The odd setup of the vehicles allows only 2 people per seat, so Josh and Joe sat up front, while I was in the back. This is fine, but isn’t really conducive to conversation.

We were given menus, and as we perused these, a plate of pastries was brought out. Since I was in the back seat, I had a plate to myself!

The pastries were really good, especially the Vanilla Cream Turnover, which has Vader’s face on them.

For a drink, I ordered the Blue Milk. You just have to. It’s basically a slightly blueberry flavored milk.

I ordered the Greek Yogurt (Yoda?) Parfait with Fresh Berries and Granola. I wasn’t a big fan.

For the main course, Joe and I had The Kessel Run which is Grilled Beef Tenderloin on Baby Spinach with Bacon and Cheddar Custard on a roasted tomato and cheesy horseradish potatoes. It was really very, very good. The steak was perfectly prepared, and all the tastes melded well. It was maybe one of the best breakfast selections I’ve ever had at WDW!

Josh had the Ackbar Surprise, Smoked Paprika-dusted shrimp, pan-seared and served with cheesy grits, which he enjoyed.

 During the meal, Stormtroopers patrol the restaurant, posing with guests, and conducting occasional interrogations.

One of the funniest things I saw during the entire trip was a Stormtrooper watching the clip from the original Star Wars, just after Darth Vader strikes Obi Wan down, and Luke shouts and starts shooting at the Stormtroopers. As he watched the scene play out, and saw his fellow Troopers constantly miss, he gestured as if to say “But they’re RIGHT THERE.” He shook his head and covered his eyes, and, as the gang onscreen escaped in the Millennium Falcon, he threw his hands up in frustration. I was too busy enjoying this show to get a photo.

I did get a photo of another humorous interaction at a neighboring table. As part of the cost of the meal, each person is given a small light up Lightsaber, which can be set to either blue (good) or red (bad).
A Stormtrooper noticed a young man had his set to blue. He walked over and pointed at it, motioning the kid to hand him the saber, which he did. The Trooper set it to red, and handed it back. Nice.

Along with the Stormtroopers, that bounty hunter with really bad eyesight, Greedo, comes around, as do Jawas looking for a trade. One wanted to trade me a light bracelet for my iPhone. I declined.

The Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast was $49.99 per adult and $31.99 per child age 3 to 9, (tax is included, gratuity is not.

 

Want to read more about Nick’s Disney adventures?  Visit the Disney Musings Blog and follow Nick on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.  You can also listen to Nick, our friend Dave, and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about….well, I bet you can guess.

Disney Dining – 50’s Prime Time Café

50's-Prime-Time-Cafe-MenuLet’s be honest – Disney’s Hollywood Studios is our least favorite park restaurant-wise.  The counter service options leave a lot to be desired and table service dining is generally underwhelming.  A couple of exceptions being the Hollywood Brown Derby’s patio dining and 50’s Prime Time Café.  One is perfect for some delish snacks or light meal and a glass of wine, the other is great for some classic American comfort food in an awesome mid-century setting.

Raymond and I recently enjoyed lunch at the 50’s Prime Time Café (we hadn’t been there in years) and were tickled by the kitschy décor, the 1950’s TV show clips, the funky service, and the home-cooked-meal menu.  For one table-service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, Prime Time’s a great choice for families and those of us old enough to appreciate the nostalgia.

Disney Dining – 50’s Prime Time Café50's-Prime-Time-Cafe-Christmas-Tree

We arrived a few minutes before our reservation, checked in at the podium and were free to roam around the waiting area.  Because it was the week between Christmas and New Year, the crowds were extreme and finding a place to sit was impossible.  Raymond found a quiet corner to stand in and I wondered around taking in the adorable seasonal decorations and homey atmosphere.  We didn’t wait long before we were called to be seated.50's-Prime-Time-Cafe-Wall-Decorations

If you haven’t heard about 50’s Prime Time Café, it is one of the unique Disney restaurants that creates a total immersion experience.  You are propelled back into a typical home in the 1950’s – complete with a grown-up (your server) making sure you mind your manners, eat your veggies, and have a good time.  50's-Prime-Time-Cafe-WaitressI couldn’t stop looking around!  I kept spotting things I grew up with either in our house or at an aunt’s, uncles, or grandparents’.  On my previous visit, I did not take the time to appreciate the carefully curated artifacts!50's-Prime-Time-Decor

The menu mainly consists of plain old American fare – popular dishes once the mainstay of those long-ago dinners where the entire family gathered around the dinner table together and talked to each other.  Back in the days when kids were called in from playing outdoors to wash up and dinner hit the table promptly at 6:00 pm.  No smart phones or cable TV…just hearty food prepared without benefit of a microwave oven.  Hard to imagine isn’t it?50's-Prime-Time-Dining-Room

Raymond and I decided to share an appetizer and entrée so we’d have more room for the dinner reservation we had that evening.  We chose the “Fried Herb and Garlic Cheese served with Raspberry Sauce, Grapes, and Apples” for $8.99 and “A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes -Golden-fried Chicken, Fork Tender Pot Roast, and Traditional Meatloaf with all the fixings” for $21.99.  50's-Prime-Time-Fried-CheeseThe appetizer was just okay…we ate it, but probably wouldn’t order it again.  I’m guessing it was the raspberry sauce which struck me as very artificial tasting.  The entrée was excellent!  50's-Prime-Time-EntreeThis place knows how to make fried chicken, pot roast, and meatloaf!  They all tasted exactly the way we wanted them to.  The veggies were great too (and I got all the green beans!)!

We think 50’s Prime Time Café is a great place for a hearty meal.  If you have meat-and-potatoes fans in your family, they’re sure to find something enjoyable on the menu and if you grew up in or just after the 1950’s, you’ll feel right at home.  It’s a fun time-travel experience for everyone!

What’s your pick for best table service restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  Have you eaten at 50’s Prime Time Café?  What did you think?