REVIEW: Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant
For the Disney Park Nerds, no trip to Disney World is complete without eating at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant – it’s fun, entertaining and the food (read: burger and milkshake) is pretty good. Not only do the Nerds and Nerdlings love Disney parks, we love movies and this the Sci-Fi Dine-In is a terrific blend of these passions.
Nestled inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios the Sci-Fi Dine-In is located in an unassuming building.
Inside, it’s not a lot better…at first. The first view is a dark(ish) rooms and the hostess stand in front of what seems to be 20′ high plywood walls. It’s the glimpse of the star-filled ceiling and noises resonating from the other side of the wall that really gets Nerds excited!
Upon check-in, expect to be asked about seating arrangements.
It’s generally faster (and a whole lot less fun) to get a table than a car. The Sci-Fi Dine-In tables are sandwiched between the front and back of a car.
The cars, however, are like eating at a drive-in and the experience is great, even if they are a little short on elbow room (but, hey, it’s realistic in this way).
A “car” at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.
But the ambience? The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant oozes ambience and is among the most immersive restaurants in all of Disney World, if not the most immersive. There is a massive drive-in screen at the front with dozens of parked cars (three rows for two regular sized and maybe three smaller guests each) facing the screen.
The sound is generally loud without being overbearing – though on our most recent trip, we thought the sound was too quiet – and the screen is lit up primarily with 50s and 60s “B” horror film previews, snippets of cartoons (Disney and otherwise), Walt Disney Presents clips starring Walt Disney, advertisements for out of this world inventions, kitschy drive-in intermission and snack bar advertisements and more.
The food at the Sci-Fi Dine-In is good!
In one of those rare instances where a highly themed restaurant delivers decent food…well, Sci-Fi Dine-In delivers. Their lunch menu and dinner menu are pretty similar with entrees ranging from $16-$25 or one credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
The food is good although the service is generally a bit slow (they seem to be forever short-staffed at the waiting position), but in all the times – it’s a lot – we have eaten at the Sci-Fi Dine-In, it’s been a consistent 45-55 minutes or about one full cycle of the video clips. So, the timing actually works out well because the “movies” are a kick and keep everyone entertained. Nerdy note: on our most recent visit, the service was the best it has ever been. Our best guess is that with fewer tables, the service has improved; something we’ve noticed in every sit-down dining experience recently.
Getting a reservation at the Sci-Fi Dine-In is never easy.
With pre-COVID Disney World guests mapping out their dining strategy 180 days prior to check-in, Sci-Fi Dine-In reservations were hard to come by. Even in the midst of COVID, they are still difficult, though likely to the reduced capacity.
NOTE: They do take walk-ins currently, so even if you are unable to score a reservation, you may still get seated in a reasonable time.
As we discussed in our Walt Disney World dining reservations post, we are a fan of Mouse Dining and this is our top strategy to secure a reservation.
Be there or be square, Daddy-O.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is worth the hassle to lock down a reservation or take the time to see if you get lucky with a “walk-in”. The restaurant is a blast, the food is good and the experience is top notch.
Extra Nerdy bonus points if you can spot the scene from Plan 9 From Outer Space, often described as a “so bad, it’s good” movie – the worst ever made!