Counter Service Restaurants

Table Service Restaurants

Food Carts

Bars or Lounges

Dining at Disney's Hollywood Studios is more interesting than in the Magic Kingdom and less ethnic than at Epcot. Disney's Hollywood Studios has five restaurants where advance reservations is recommended: The Hollywood Brown Derby, 50's Prime Time Cafe, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano, and the Hollywood and Vine Cafeteria. The upscale Brown Derby is by far the best restaurant at the Studios.

For simple Italian food, including pizza, Mama Melrose's is fine. Just don't expect anything fancy. At the Sci-Fi Dine-In, you eat in little cars at a simulated drive-in movie of the 1950s. Though you won't find a more entertaining restaurant in Walt Disney World, the food is quite disappointing. Somewhat better is the 50's Prime Time Cafe, where you sit in Mom's kitchen of the 1950s and scarf down meat loaf while watching clips of vintage TV sitcoms. The 50's Prime Time Cafe is fun, and the food is a step up. The best way to experience either restaurant is to stop in for dessert or a drink between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.

Author's Favorite Counter-Service Restaurants

We receive considerable mail from readers recounting their Disney Studios dining experiences. A man from Sumter, South Carolina, writes:

We had lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In. In the guide you gave it a terrible review, but I have always felt you guys are too hard on the Disney restaurants, so we went ahead and ate there. Well, on this one you were right on target! While the atmosphere was fun, and the clips were a hoot, the food was lousy... and expensive!

A Mechanicsville, Virginia, family agreed:

You tried to warn us about the Sci-Fi Dine-In, but my four-year old was dying to eat there. The food was even worse than you said—and the cost! $9.50 for a hot dog and fries.

Readers respectively from Yakima, Washington and Glendale Heights, Illinois, chimed in, writing:

I admit I didn't follow your advice and we ate at the Sci-Fi. You were right, the food was expensive. It was actually our most expensive lunch on the trip. Eating in miniature cars was original. But the food was mediocre and way overpriced. The proverbial hot dog and fries were $9.50.

The 50's Prime Time Cafe is always a hot topic. First from a Maryland reader:

50's Prime Time Café was a fun experience, but again, the food quality was, at best, mediocre. If my mom really did cook that way, I would have many times run away from home. Our poor reaction to the food quality pushed us quickly into the car and out of WDW. I never thought I would get down on my knees and kiss the sidewalk outside of a Perkins Pancake House.

But a West Newton, Massachusetts, family loved the Prime Time:

50's Prime Time Café: We know you guys didn't rate it very well, but we decided to go against your recommendation and give it a shot. We're so glad we did! For the five of us (ages 16–20), this dining experience was a blast. Our waiter (and big brother for the meal),"Leroy," came and sat at our table and helped us set our places so we wouldn't get in trouble with "Mom." When one member of our party cursed, "Mom" arrived to punish him, making him clear the table onto her tray, which he did shamefully. Overall, the experience was a total kick, which we talked about for the rest of the trip.

Other Prime Time advocates had this to say:

Best meal in park, but you must get into character [i.e., go along with the role-playing] to have fun.

The 50's Prime Time Café had very good food. It's hardly a gourmet dish, but I have had lots of chicken Caesar salads, many of them bad. The Prime Time Café's salad was really excellent! The chicken was amazingly moist, and the salad was very fresh tasting. Even the croutons were above par.

The Brown Derby was a favorite of a San Diego reader:

Delicious food, great selections, and an excellent end to an evening at the Studios.

While yet another reader made a culinary find at Mama Melrose's Ristorante:

Great flatbread pizza!! Our waiter was as slow as a snail, but the food was good.

If you arrive at Disney's Hollywood Studios without previously arranging advance reservations for meals, do so at the the advance reservations kiosk at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset boulevards or at the restaurants.

If you have no advance reservations and become hungry during meal times, try Toy Story Pizza Planet (sometimes overlooked by the teeming hordes).

Each Disney's Hollywood Studios full-service and counter-service restaurant is profiled below.

FANTASMIC! DINING PACKAGE

If you dine at the Hollywood & Vine buffet (dinner only) or at Mama Melrose's or Brown Derby full-service restaurants, you can obtain a ticket/voucher for the members of your dining party to enter the night's first showing of Fantasmic! without waiting in line and sit in a section of seats (one of the best in the theater) reserved specifically for dining package patrons..

Here are the rules: You may call 407-WDW-DINE (or book online) up to 180 days in advance and request the Fantasmic! Dining Package for the night you want to see the show. This is a reservation and must be guaranteed with a credit card at the time of booking. There's a 48-hour cancellation policy. Disney Dining Plan credits can be used to pay for the meal.

To keep guests from coming in and ordering the cheapest thing on the menu just to get Fantasmic! vouchers, Disney includes a fixed price meal in the package. Sample 2013 prices (peak season, excluding park admission and gratuity) are roughly as follows:

Hollywood
Brown Derby
(Lunch or Dinner)
Mama Melrose's
Ristorante Italiano
(Lunch or Dinner)
Hollywood & Vine
Buffet
(Dinner Only)
Adult $59 $38 $40
Child (3-9) $18 $13 $23

The price covers all you care to eat at the Hollywood & Vine Buffet; choice of appetizer, soup or salad, main course, bread, and dessert at the Brown Derby; and flatbread, family-style salad, choice of main course, and dessert at Mama Melrose. Nonalcoholic drinks are included. With so many courses at the two full-service restaurants, allow yourself a minimum of two hours to eat and make your way to the Fantasmic! show. If you have made ordinary reservations for any of the participating restaurants, they will not include reserved seats for Fantasmic!. You have to buy the package to get the good seats.

You will receive your tickets/vouchers at the restaurant. 30-45 minutes before the first Fantasmic! show of the night, report to the VIP seating entrance on Sunset Boulevard next to Beauty and the Beast. A cast member will collect your vouchers and direct or escort you to the seating reserved for dining package guests. Though you're required to arrive early, you can be seated immediately and won't have to stand in any lines. You will not have specific assigned seats in the reserved section. It's first-come/first-served, so arrive early for the best choice. Finally, understand that you're out of luck if Fantasmic! is cancelled due to weather or other circumstances; you will not receive a refund or even a voucher for another performance.