Category Rank: 2
Park: Hollywood Studios
Park Rank: 1
We hit the top item in Hollywood Studios, and while it isn't a park that screams nostalgia necessarily, this one really delivers. 50s Prime Time Cafe also represents the top table service restaurant on this list as well (and second overall). So, you know you have a great entry on our list.
Much like Whispering Canyons, it features a very underrated menu, honing in on "American Family" classics. This includes items like pot roast, fried chicken, and meatloaf. And while you might not think so, the meatloaf is very popular. It makes you wonder why other restaurants don't have it on their menu, actually. We happen to love the American-style menu, so our table-service choice at Hollywood Studios is pretty much a no-brainer.
They top of the entrees with milkshakes (included on the dining plan) as well as desserts (also included). And, these feature two of our family favorites. Our kids love the Peanut Butter-and-Jelly milkshake, and several of our family members love the Smores dessert. Again, why don't more restaurants serve Smores for dessert?
But also like Whispering Canyons, you don't just go for the food. You go for the ambience. And, the show. The restaurant is set within your "mother's kitchen", as tables are set up in kitchen-like areas throughout the restaurant. There are TV sets spread throughout showing clips from classic 50s television shows (I have to admit my ignorance, as I didn't recognize any of the shows, but Grandma reassures me they are classics). And, the wait staff is one of your family members (Aunt So-and-So or Uncle Such-and-Such).
Depending on the waiter or waitress that you get, you can get a spirited discussion on family activities, as well as friendly reminders (Keep your elbows off the tables, kiddo). And that is just the start of the antics. We've seen waiters have a straw-wrapper blowing contest with kids, as well as take the seat of someone who has been in the bathroom for too long (and won't move until the show's over). On one occasion, we had one sneak in through the fake window that separates different rooms in the kitchen.
Much like some earlier attractions we have seen, 50s Prime Time Cafe's nostalgia works two ways. It is a special Disney experience, something unique to WDW (and one we do on every trip). Plus it hearkens back to a nostalgic time of simpler life (the Leave it to Beaver 50s). That double-nostalgia helps propel it to the top table service entry.
At this point, a good question would be how does this stack up against some of the other "special" items we have had recently. While its #16 ranking is pretty high overall, it does sit a bit lower compared to the other top items. Part of this is the higher potential a ride, seasonal event, or "park ambience" have over a restaurant. It also is telling that the top two table service restaurants are more known for their show than their food. The show is obviously the main part of the Disney nostalgia.
The other aspect of Disney nostalgia that this brings up is the sense of those themes WDW emphasizes. Whether it be the wild frontier, the spirit of adventure, the fantasy of magic, the progress towards the future, the worldwide community, or the becoming one with the environment, WDW strives to reinforce those themes heavily in everything that they do. Because of this, it is hard for table service restaurants to crack this list. They may be very delicious, but they don't reinforce those themes as much as other places do. 50s Prime Time Cafe is different here, with its reminiscing of the simpler times from the past. But, even here, there are other items that do it better.
We are up to #15, which features an iconic slow ride from Epcot. Much like the Kilimanjaro Safaris, this ride is almost synonymous with the Epcot park itself, having a prominent location in the middle of FutureWorld and offering both famous animatronics and top quality interactivity.