Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe

by josh on November 26, 2012

11/12/13 Update: Menu updated and new items added.

Location: Cosmic Ray’s is located in Tomorrowland across from Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.  It has entrances on three sides, so you can easily enter here or around on the reverse side.  There’s no entrance further down where Buzz and Stitch are located.

The entrance on the opposite side of the building is located across from Fairytale Garden.

Food Type: Typical Disney Hot Dogs, burgers, and nuggets along with sandwiches, soups, salads, and barbecued chicken and ribs.

Dining Plan: One quick service credit and a couple items count as snacks.

Lunch Menu:

Bay 1:


The Barbecued Ribs are only available after 4pm.

Bay 2:


Bay 3:




Dinner Entrees Available After 4pm at Bay 1:

1/2 Chicken and Rib Combo with Mashed Potatoes and a Seasonal Vegetable $15.19

1/2 Chicken and Rib Combo Barbecued Rib Meal served with Mashed Potatoes and a Seasonal Vegetable $ 11.69

Unique Items: The Greek Salad, Turkey Sandwich, Vegetable Sandwich, Cucumber Salad, Chicken Noodle Soup, and Gelatos are either a unique take or uncommon.

Advantages:

  • A lot of indoor and outdoor seating.  Inside, the audioanimatronic Sonny Eclipse entertains guests.
  • Lines are usually shorter than the other quick services and wait times for food are often shorter.
  • Chili Cheese Fries and Chicken Noodle Soup are hearty uses of a snack credit.
  • The Gelato desserts are tasty cold desserts.
  • One of the best toppings bars at Disney World with pickles relish, tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, lettuce, cheese sauce, and the usual suspects.
  • Even though the menu is more limited than it used to be, it still offers more items than most other quick services when all Bays are considered.

Disadvantages:

  • If you want to order from multiple Bays, you’ll have to get in line multiple times or split the group up. It can be confusing to figure out who wants to order what from which bay.
  • Selection and quality have declined over the years.  The popular Chicken/Rib Combo is expensive and only offered after 4pm so people on the Quick Service Dining Plan are less likely to be able to order two expensive entrees over the course of the day.
  • Although seating seems plentiful, Cosmic Ray’s serves more people per day than any other Disney World quick service.  Check seating near Bay 3 – tables are almost always available.

Value: Average. A lot of the food, including the Salads, Burgers, and Nuggets are standard Disney fare.  While I find some items large enough to share, I have no problem polishing off the $15.19 Chicken/Ribs Combo myself.

Reputation: Cosmic Ray’s has a good reputation because of its toppings bar and people love the Chicken/Rib Combo.  With the higher pricing, lower quality, and availability of the ribs only after 4pm, I would say Cosmic Ray’s is overrated.  Selection is also much more limited than it has been historically.

Food Choices:

1/2 Chicken and Rib Combo:

A staple on the Disney Dining Plan since it’s the most expensive quick service entree in any of the Walt Disney World theme parks.  “People” will tell you that it’s plenty of food to share.  I’m not so sure – I never have any problem finishing it.  There’s three fatty ribs underneath the chicken, a dollop of Mashed Potatoes, and the Green Beans.  An above average meal that will run you $4-$5 more than your typical quick service meal.  And it seems healthier than a lot of stuff, even if it probably isn’t.

Barbecued Pork Sandwich:

This is really nothing to write home about.  If you’re familiar with the Jack Daniels brand of pulled pork, you’ll have a pretty good idea about what to expect inside this thing.  It’s better than Lloyd’s or Curly’s though.  I am a bit of a meat tub connoisseur, so you can trust me on this.  There’s a reasonably sized portion in between the basic bun, but I didn’t find it to be a particularly filling or satisfying meal.

Chicken Breast Nuggets:

Disney Chicken Nuggets are basically the same theme-park-wide.  The exterior is light/crispy and they aren’t greasy.  The nuggets are quite good dipped in sauce, though nothing spectacular or much different than Tyson brand nuggets you can heat in the oven at home.  If you’re looking for something that isn’t quite as heavy and don’t want a salad, then the nuggets aren’t a bad idea.  At nearly $9, they don’t offer much value though.

Turkey Sandwich:


Now you could chalk this up to being, “just a cold sandwich.”  But let’s not forget how many sandwiches Disney has screwed up in the past.  There’s everything at Diamond Horseshoe, the Pressed Tuscan Deli at Studio Catering Company, BLT Chicken Flatbread at Golden Oak Outpost, Chilled Chicken Wrap at Pecos Bill, etc.  So the fact that this is made with fresh bread, has a healthy helping of turkey, is topped with crunchy cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions and has a tasty mayonnaise puts it squarely in the “winning” column.  I haven’t made a Charlie Sheen reference on the blog yet, so that’s my one.  If I ever use “winning” again, remind me that I’m over quota.  It’s also topped with a nice mayo and Swiss(?) cheese.  It had a decidedly “Greek salad” vibe with the cucumber and red onion, which aren’t necessarily turkey sandwich staples.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is also a large portion with two convenient halves, tastes and appears healthy, and comes with choice of a few side items.  Overall, this would be a nice healthy snack for two people or a nice value for lunch or dinner.  Don’t have a bad word to say about it.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich:

This sad thing you’re looking at here is a $9.59 Grilled Chicken Sandwich from Cosmic Ray’s.  It comes “naked” – just bread and chicken.  It’s up to you to add tomato, lettuce, mayo, etc. from the condiments bar.  By the time I had adequately prepared the sandwich, it had gotten cold.  Overall, this was a pretty sad dry piece of chicken on an old bun.  Nothing special.

Greek Salad:


This was a perfectly decent salad, if not for the fact that it was drenched in dressing and the lettuce was limp.  There’s a nice helping of feta cheese on the side there, which is the key ingredient in a salad of this variety.  It tasted like the President branded feta that I tend to put on most of my salads anyway.  The cucumber had the appropriate level of crunch and seemed to be sliced fresh.  The Greek olives were as you would expect.  They’re not my favorite.  The hunk of bread is also about as fresh as bread gets at Walt Disney World and it’s an awfully big piece.  Get some butter for it while you’re at the condiment station (if you’d like to, that is).  Overall, not a bad choice should you be looking for a salad, especially a “naturally” vegetarian one.

Chicken Noodle Soup:

Better have a snack before we go any further.  No one likes a cranky blog reader.  This is the Chicken Noodle Soup from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.  While not a particularly large portion for $3.49 (or a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan), it was served hot and comes chock-full of cute Mickey-Head pasta.  Mickey is accompanied by celery, onions, and carrots, which may make the soup less kid-friendly.  I would have made my mom pick out all the ickies.  Otherwise, you get a couple small pieces of chicken and a tasty broth.  Depending on the sodium content, it would be a healthier snack than most other things at Walt Disney World, though it’s not as filling as your prototypical Mickey Pretzel.  Overall, I would shy toward the soup at Columbia Harbour House – their clam chowder and chili are both excellent, but both would run you another $1 and neither is a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

Mango Gelato:

According to the menu, this is a “No-Sugar-Added Mango Gelato.” The container calls it an Italian Sorbet. Semantics, I guess. It’s sort of an off-putting yellow, but soooooooooooooooo good. OMG. Divine. If you like sorbet or chilled fruit treats in general, this should be a winner. It’s also a nice changeup from the prepackaged cakes on the Disney Dining Plan and much more refreshing on those hot Florida days. Highly recommended.  I preferred this to the chocolate.

Chocolate Gelato:

It’s served in prepackaged containers that are distributed by Molto Gelato, a local distributor of gelato, ice cream, and other frozen treats.  It has a very rich, deep, dark chocolate flavor.  It’s not a huge portion, but it’s so rich and so heavy that I’m not sure you’d want much more.  I think this would be amazing if you like dark chocolate.  I’m more of a “milk chocolate guy,” so it wasn’t necessarily to my taste.  It’s certainly a quality item, though.

Orange Cream Slush:

Cosmic Ray’s offers seasonal slushes, including this delicious orange cream slush for $3.99. It’s not cloyingly sweet and is a lot of slush for the money.

Seating:

Cosmic Ray’s has the largest seating area of any Magic Kingdom quick service, with a lot of indoor air-conditioned tables, outdoor terrace seating, and outdoor patio seating.  However, the area is usually swamped at peak meal time and you may be surprised to find the lack of available tables.  If it seems full, look for tables furthest away from the cash registers near Bay 3.


The main seating area also features entertainment by the popular Sonny Eclipse.

Condiments:

Cosmic Ray’s has one of the best toppings bars of any Disney World quick service, offering up all of the usual favorites along with sauteed onions and mushrooms.






{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

DJV November 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I think Sonny is a little underrated and most visitors owe it to themselves to visit Cosmic Ray’s at least once in their left, at least to watch Sonny. Is his schtick cheesy? Probably. But it’s that sort of classic Disney entertainment at a counter-service eatery that separates Disney from the competition. Kal David (the voice of Sonny) is a professional jazz/blues artist who has had some mainstream success and a lengthy career. The audio-loop is pretty robust too – I think it’s ~25 minutes in length, meaning you see the whole show in about one sitting. In sum, Disney invested a decent amount into the character/show, and it’s “free” entertainment — a small, ‘plussed’ eating experience that I think adds to the unspoken appeal of Disney World. I think he’s even more unique and interesting because he’s something Disney does very little now: he’s a character without a film or television tie-in – he has nothing specifically to promote, nothing to upsell you, no plush to push. He has a backstory, and a narrative, and a show, and that’s his entire raison d’etre.

I agree the menu is mediocre and the prices high but I think Disney should be applauded for creating Sonny and leaving him in place, and I wish he’s something the parks would do more of.

Tricia November 27, 2012 at 10:03 am

When you are hungry and just want to get a bite and get a seat, I think Cosmic Rays works just fine. We grabbed a seat next to Sonny and I enjoyed watching him “perform” and the kids dancing nearby. I agree with Josh that the condiments bar really makes it. I had the grilled chicken sandwich and added mushrooms, onions, bbq sauce, lettuce, tomato and pickles. I wasn’t there when it was busy so thankfully my sandwich wasn’t cold by the time I was seated. I also remember thinking that there were a lot of fries with my serving. Again, no complains there! It wasn’t my best meal at WDW, but it certainly wasn’t my worst.

annie November 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm

After reading this site for several months, we ate at Cosmic Ray’s with our DDP last month. The rotisserie chicken and ribs are a great value for a sit down meal and the mango gelato was delicious! I had more than enough food to share with my grandson who didn’t have the DDP. Everyone in our group enjoyed their meals and Sonny kept the grandkids entertained.

annie November 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I meant counter service meal, not sit down.

annethomas November 28, 2012 at 4:35 am

On a scale of 1-10 can you rate the ribs? DS LOVES ribs if only fair I do not need the mess or headache.

Kelsey October 31, 2013 at 11:12 am

The ribs are definitely only “fair.” I think that’s even an overstatement. I’m not an expert when it comes to ribs, and even I know these are not that great.

DH and I do like the chicken, though. The green beans are a favorite of mine, and DH loves those mashed potatoes. We bought the 1/2 chicken/rib combo twice, and both times the ribs were gross. So now we just get the 1/2 chicken plate. We split everything we eat (more small meals rather than fewer large meals). It gives us a chance to try more restaurants and spend less $$ and less time being stuffed from eating too much.

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