I sort of have a love/hate relationship with Disney Hollywood Studios’ popular restaurant, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Over the years, I find myself going back over and over, hoping that each visit will be better than the last. I often find myself disappointed with one thing or another. However, a few weeks ago I decided to give it another shot on a whim after completing the 5K during Disney’s Marathon Weekend.
The retro-themed restaurant is popular with solo travelers and families for many reasons. American fare such as hamburgers, fried pickles, and milk shakes are among the options on the menu. The restaurant will never win awards for creativity. It is about as dependable as it is predictable. I think many families choose the restaurant because they do not have to wonder what something is on the menu. However, the basic American menu makes guests wonder if they could get the same food (but for a lot less money) at a counter-service restaurant.
My husband and I were lucky enough to secure a lunch reservation soon after Sci-Fi opened. We came back a few hours later, and we were ready to eat! After a short wait, we were seated at the front of a lovely green Bel-Air style car. In my opinion, Sci-Fi has one of the most immersive atmospheres of any restaurant in Disney World. Themed like a 50’s drive-in movie theater, you dine under the shining “stars” as you watch incredibly campy movie clips on a giant theater screen. The car booths are a little bit cramped, and the lighting is horrifically dark. I understand the concept is dining at night, but it is incredibly difficult to see the food in front of you.
Thankfully on my last two trips to the drive-in, I have had fantastic service. Both waiters were attentive without being intrusive. First off, My husband and I knew that we wanted to share the Spinach and Artichoke Dip. When browsing the menu, I inquired about the Vegetarian Sheppard’s Pie. Since it is a newer menu item, I had not read any reviews of it before. Our waiter told me that it is their standard vegetarian burger patty, mashed potatoes, and cheese on top. I thought it sounded a little bit too simple, but I was willing to give it a shot. I encouraged my husband to try the Vegetable Burger since I liked it so much on my last visit.
The Spinach and Artichoke Dip had a pretty decent flavor of mixed cheeses. My husband and I devoured it. We did agree that the size was rather small for the price that we paid. Now, I hate to say it, but I was right about my entree choice. The Vegetarian Sheppard’s Pie was probably the laziest meal I have ever had on Disney property: mashed up veggie burger placed into a dish with instant mashed potatoes and two American cheese singles melted on top. I really wish I could say that the flavor made up for the lack of effort in preparation, but I cannot. I swear that there was something really off, flavor-wise, about this dish. My husband did not seem to have a problem with it. However, he is known for throwing almost anything in our fridge into a tortilla and calling it gourmet, so maybe he is not the best judge of my dish.
My husband really enjoyed his Vegetable Burger. It is larger than other standard veggie burgers that you find on Disney property, and is also served with a good amount of veggies on top of the burger itself. What made the burger stand out was the balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top. Yum! The burger was served with really delicious sweet potato fries. It was clear that my husband won the battle of the entrees, especially given that his Vegetable Burger was slightly less expensive than my strange pile of mush.
We decided to skip dessert on this trip, despite the fact that the tasty milkshakes were calling to us. One thing I will say about Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is that the menu gets changed up more often than at other Disney restaurants. I am not sure if that is due to constant misses with the entrees or just because Disney keeps looking for cheaper options on their end.
Overall, this visit to the drive-in for lunch was much like my previous experiences, sort of a hit and miss all around. If you decide to dine there for yourself, I suggest sticking with basic menu options and asking questions about preparation to determine if an item will be worth the cost.
Have you visited Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant lately? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below!