*This gluten free dining experience took place in November 2020. It includes information about dairy free options, as well as fish/shellfish, peanut, hazelnut, cabbage, and chicken & turkey allergies.
Dinner at 50’s Prime Time Cafe
50’s Prime Time Cafe, located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is a table service restaurant that offers up some nostalgia, a bit of hijinks, and classic American comfort food. 50’s Prime Time used to be a restaurant that I would go to often, mainly because of their amazing gluten free and dairy free fried chicken. But, it fell off my radar for quite a few years after a few less than stellar experiences there. So, when a reservation popped up, Brandon and I decided to give it a try — especially since Brandon had never dined there before. We made a reservation for mid/late afternoon around the last “lunch time” seating and before the dinner seating started & spent the afternoon time enjoying the park.
COVID-19 & Reopening Notes
On this particular visit, we made reservations for the restaurant a few days before we dined there. I used the My Disney Experience app and found that there was a late afternoon seating, which we decided to book. The app worked as it normally does, and we were able to add in our special dietary needs in the app and alert cast members of our needs when we arrived at the restaurant. When we arrived at the restaurant, were able to do online check-in and also spoke with a manager, as well.
The restaurant itself featured many mechanisms to provide sanitization, social distancing, and safety for both guests and cast members. We were actually asked to wait outside versus inside before our table was ready to ensure social distancing. In fact, they were not really letting anyone stay inside the lobby area of 50’s Prime Time Cafe — and Tune-In Lounge was closed. All cast members wore facial masks and some cast members also wore protective shields, as well. All servers in the restaurant wore both facial masks and protective shields.
As a note, at the time of writing this review, we have been to several of the Disney Resorts, including the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk Resort, Contemporary Resort, Coronado Springs Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Old Key West Resort, Polynesian, and Riviera Resort along with all of the theme parks. All locations have the same protocols, as far as we have observed. Be sure to check with restaurants and the official Disney World website for additional information about current guidelines and recommendations.
50’s Prime Time Cafe’s theming is all about retro kitsch. You’ll not only feel like you stepped back in time, but you’ll also be transported to a home of the 1950s.
From the moment you walk into the restaurant, the 1950s vibe begins.
You’ll find the main waiting area to feel like a living room or den, complete with a retro TV showing clips of television shows from the 1950s. You’ll find lots of kitschy decor.
Though not open when we dined at 50’s Prime Time Cafe, the lobby area includes a bar called the “Tune-In Lounge.” It’s usually very popular. And, you can order virtually anything from the regular 50’s Prime Time menu and grab a drink too.
Once in the main dining area, you’re fully transported to a 1950s home and dining room. Seating varies, but can include a retro TV at your table, cozy booths, and lots of kitschy decor. We were seated at a large table that include a bookcase and a TV, so we could be fully entertained while our “cousins” helped prepare our meal.
As an aside, in addition to the retro vibe, the restaurant also has a very well-known schtick. Since you’re dining in a home of the 1950s, you’ll encounter servers, known as cousins, who really get into the 1950s vibe. Be sure to keep you elbows off the table and eat all your vegetables. You’ve been warned!
Brandon and I don’t tend to be big fans of shenanigans. But, we found that on this visit, our server was very low-key and got into the fun without making the shenanigans overwhelming. Of course, if you love these kind of antics, be sure to banter back and forth with your server!
Like most Disney owned restaurants, 50’s Prime Time Cafe does offer an allergy-friendly menu. You can, of course, always speak to a chef when you dine at the restaurant to discuss different options, modifications, and any other questions you might have. On this visit, we not only stopped by the restaurant early (more on that in a minute), but we also consulted with the allergy-friendly menu and spoke to a chef.
Because of our special dietary needs and a my interest in the gluten free & dairy free fried chicken, we stopped by the restaurant a few hours before our reservation. This is the best tip I have for ordering gluten free fried chicken from 50s Prime Time Cafe.
The gluten free fried chicken is not listed on the allergy-friendly menu and is only available by request either by emailing Disney’s Special Dietary Needs Department ahead of time or by stopping by the restaurant before your meal. You could try to ask for it when you dine at the restaurant, but we have always been told that it takes 45 minutes to prepare so advance notice is recommended. I simply spoke to a cast member in advance who took our reservation information, my request, and noted that it would be given to the chef. When we spoke to the chef during our reservation, he said they were already preparing it, which was great!
We also spoke to the chef about Brandon’s special dietary needs to ensure that he could eat the pot roast (because sometimes they include gravy that includes chicken stock/broth in it, which he is allergic to) and also to see if he could order some allergy-friendly French Fries. The chef was very accommodating and helpful in navigating the options. When in doubt, it’s always good to talk to a chef!
Brandon and I decided to split an appetizer before our entrees arrived. I was super curious about Cousin Amy’s Iceberg Lettuce Wedge with Dairy Free & Vegan Ranch Dressing, Rice Paper Bacon, Chives, Cherry Tomatoes, and Sliced Red Onions. This was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Fish/Shellfish, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies. I’m not sure why the allergy-friendly menu did not list egg as a safe option, because both the chef and our server noted this was a vegan/plant-based appetizer. So, you’ll want to double-check that if you have any concerns.
Omigosh did this surprise us. Both Brandon and I absolutely loved the dairy free & vegan ranch dressing. It was very flavorful and was a great alternative to dairy-filled ranch. We both liked the rice paper bacon, though neither of us felt it tasted that much like bacon. Still, it provided some great crunch and texture to the dish. Overall, we both really enjoyed this and actually said next time we’d order two salads versus splitting one because it was that good. This will be an appetizer we order again for sure.
As you can see from this photo, I was pretty impressed when my massive plate of gluten free & dairy free fried chicken arrived!
Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken (made gluten free and dairy free) came with corn and roasted potatoes. If you can have dairy, you can also swap out the roasted potatoes for mashed potatoes if you prefer those instead. The chicken itself is gluten free and dairy free, and the entree (minus the GF fried chicken) on the allergy-friendly menu is also marked safe for Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Milk, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies.
If you like fried chicken & you’re interested in this, it’s definitely worth the effort of stopping by the restaurant a few hours in advance to request it. While I think I do prefer the gluten free and dairy free fried chicken from Skipper Canteen just a bit more, this is just a great classic comfort food dish. Plus, it’s not something that you can get safely out often, so it’s a definite winner. Everything was really tasty, and it was a solid meal.
For Brandon’s entree, he ordered the Pot Roast which came with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and garnished with Carrots and Celery. The gravy that normally comes with the pot roast contains chicken broth/stock, so the chef brought Brandon some beef jus for the dish, in case he was interested in it. This dish was marked safe for Egg, Fish/Shellfish, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies. And, it was also safe for chicken & turkey and cabbage allergies, as well.
Brandon was definitely very impressed by this dish. He wasn’t expecting to like the food all that much at 50’s Prime Time Cafe but came out of the meal wanting to go back and get that pot roast again.
Because Brandon loves potatoes, he also asked to get a side of French Fries. The chef noted that these came from a dedicated fryer that did not contain any chicken, turkey, or meat products. So, if you’re gluten free, dairy free, and vegan, this will be another option you could get at 50’s Prime Time, since the fryer was just for French Fries.
For dessert, both Brandon and I each ordered the Chef’s Special Chocolate Brownie which we each ordered a la mode. I got non-dairy ice cream (Tofutti) and Brandon got regular dairy-filled ice cream. Both of our brownies were the same though and were marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies. The brownie is also vegan too.
50’s Prime Time Cafe has been making a house-made brownie for years and years with Namaste mix. And, I was so glad to see that they were still making this. Both Brandon and I really liked the brownie and the ice cream options we had. Our only complaint was that we should have asked for chocolate syrup. That would have made the brownie sundae complete! It’s definitely a great for dessert, especially if you’re looking for an allergy-friendly option that covers a lot of the top 8 common allergens.
If you want to get more information about our visit to 50’s Prime Time Cafe, we did film our visit for our YouTube channel.
Have you been to 50’s Prime Time Cafe? What was your experience dining there?