Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: July 30, 2004 at 2:13 AM
Actually, that little blurb doesn't do the restaurant any justice. I have been three times and even though it is just a restaurant, it is probably my second favorite thing inside Disney/MGM.
The fun begins right after giving the front desk your name (for Priority Seating call 407-WDW-DINE up to ninety days before your trip) and you are told to wait in the "living room." The waiting room does look like a fifties sitcom living room, but with WAY more televisions, which feature clips from 50s era television shows. We were delighted on our first visit when we were asked if we were the "Baxter kids" before being seated.
The dining area is not themed as a dining room, but as MANY dining rooms. Having so many smaller rooms makes this one of the better sit-down restaurants in the parks, because the single-room restaurants can be so loud. With all that goes on here, one room would make this an almost intolerable experience.
While there are television sets all over the dining rooms, they don't create the noise. That aspect is left to the serving staff, who play your relatives. Your server will introduce himself or herself as Cousin This or Aunt That and they all refer to Mom back in the kitchen. And they refer loudly. They also yell at each other and sometimes at the customers. One Aunt demanded I set the table as she sat down to chat with my tablemates.
If this is something you don't find humorous, then I suggest you try the Brown Derby instead. Because this is the type of goofiness that the Prime Time is all about. Expect to be reprimanded if your elbows are on the table. Or if you don't finish your vegetables. "Relatives" aren't beyond punishment, which can take the form of running around the dining room like a superhero. They'll also set adults up with Little Mermaid bibs for those eating seafood. Even if it is a seafood pasta!
Of course, this would all be for naught if the food sucked. Not that it can compare to the Brown Derby or most of Epcot's wares, but it does suffice. Appetizers tend to fall into staples like onion rings, soup and French fries, though the fries do offer toppings like gravy, cheese or chili and cheese. There is a trout dip and fried cheese, for those interested in something a little different. I have tried the fries with cheese, and they did the job quite nicely. One friend is an onion ring fiend, and was very pleased with hers. The only problem was the sheer size of the portions. Had we known, we probably would have just shared the fries.
As for entrees, there are actually more offerings at lunch than at dinner, though the extra offerings on the lunch menu tend to fall into the sandwich category. I did order the Turkey Sandwich once, with soft seven-grain bread and some tasty cranberry mayonnaise, but it certainly wasn't the best I have ever had. Okay, not great.
I have also had the Chicken Pot Pie, which I enjoyed very much, even with stuff like broccoli and onions in it. Bleah! One thing about pot pies I like is how big the veggies usually are, making them easy to pick out. I have also sampled from friends' plates and have found the generous Sauteed Shrimp Pasta delicious, though I usually prefer my seafood with smaller noodles than the penne pasta they offer. The pancetta and Shiitake mushrooms helped make up for the penne, somewhat. I have also sampled the Golden Fried Chicken, which many rave about, but in the age of chicken fingers I have grown too accustomed to having ranch dressing on my chicken, so a little chicken went a long way for me here.
On to dessert! The offerings here tend to be diner staples like sundaes, shakes and cakes. My friends and I are in love with Dad's Super Sundae, something the menu does not do justice. Sure, it mentions a brownie with vanilla ice cream covered in fudge and caramel. It doesn't tell you about the whipped cream, the Cracker Jacks or the M&Ms all over it. Or the size! This thing is immense! The last time we visited we were still full from lunch, so we told them we wanted just dessert. I was warned by my Aunt that I couldn't eat an entire Super Sundae. Clearly she is a distant Aunt as she don't know me and ice cream! That thing was history in no time. A friend had the Cherry Cobbler, with ice cream, and I was forced to help her out with it. It was good, and I normally love cherry cobbler, but it was no Super Sundae. The cheesecakes are also fine, but nothing out of the ordinary.
If you want a fun meal with average-to-above-average food, then you can do no better than the 50's Prime Time Cafe. Prices are very reasonable and are in line with what you would pay for a meal at any chain restaurant outside the park (Denny's and the like excluded). Alcoholic drinks are also available and can be obtained without a meal in the Tune In Lounge, which is "next door" but not really. Same building. So go see your "family" and remember to keep your elbows off the table!
My TPI Rating - Personally, I give it a 9-Outstanding, but since a lot of that is because I am sick of most of the rest of the park, the normal rating would probably be an 8-Commendable.