Best Hollywood Studios Table Service Restaurants Disney World

by josh on May 28, 2010

Best Hollywood Studios Sit Down Table Service Restaurants Disney World

Of all the theme parks that make up Walt Disney World, the Hollywood Studios is known to have the worst dining choices.  While it’s unlikely you’ll be blown out of the water at any of the Studios’ table service restaurants, it’s not too difficult to find a decent meal if you know where to look.  While the frugal should avoid the costly Hollywood Brown Derby and anyone with taste buds should reconsider Hollywood & Vine, the three middle-of-the-road restaurants all have something to offer.  Hollywood & Vine isn’t terrible for breakfast either and the Hollywood Brown Derby may be an oasis for someone looking for a relaxing, higher end meal.  Knowing what to expect, managing expectations, and finding the right fit for your group is the key to a successful meal.  With that, let’s have at it.

Be sure to read over the full reviews for more information on any of the restaurants listed.  You can either click here for the full list in alphabetical order or click the individual highlighted links throughout this post.

Most Unique Menu

1. Hollywood Brown Derby

2. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

3.50’s Prime Time Café

4. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

5. Hollywood and Vine

Almost everything on the Hollywood Brown Derby’s menu is a unique recipe with costly ingredients and an interesting presentation.  You won’t find grouper, bean and vegetable ragout, sashimi grade tuna tartar, or asparagus soup anywhere else at Disney.  The rest of the table service restaurants at the Hollywood Studios offer familiar foods, with Mame Melrose getting the slight edge.  You’ll find a variety of unique flatbread pizza combinations as well as spicy Italian sausage and eggplant napoleon.  The 50’s Prime Time Café serves familiar comfort food like meat loaf, fried chicken, and pot roast and the Sci-Fi Dine-In features hamburgers, sandwiches, ribs, and pasta.  Both of these restaurants would be excellent with unadventurous eaters.  Hollywood & Vine is your standard buffet with a selection similar to what you would find at a casino or chain buffet restaurant.  The standard carving station, bread basket, ice cream station, and salads all make appearances, as expected.

Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Disney Dining Plan

1. Mama Melrose’s (Average Entrée Cost $17.06, Average Dessert Cost $5.87, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $27.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $6.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $37.98)

2. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Average Entrée Cost $16.28, Average Dessert Cost $6.95, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $22.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $35.67)

3. 50’s Prime Time Café (Average Entrée Cost $18.18, Average Dessert Cost $5.54, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $20.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.49, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $33.48)

4. Hollywood and Vine (Adult Breakfast: $26.99, Child Breakfast: $14.99, Adult Lunch: $26.99, Child Lunch: $14.99, Adult Dinner: $30.99, Child Dinner: $15.99)

5. Hollywood Brown Derby (Average Entrée Cost $31.38, Average Dessert Cost $7.67, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $40.00, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $9.00, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $53.00)

At first glance, the Hollywood Brown Derby is obviously the most expensive restaurant.  However, it costs two table service credits, whereas the other choices only cost one.  Therefore, we’ll halve the cost of the most expensive meal, to get an actual cost of only $26.50 per table service credit.  This is even less than lunch at Hollywood and Vine, which is why the Brown Derby is in the fifth position.  The most expensive meal is found at Mama Melrose’s, provided you order the $27.99 charred sirloin steak entrée.  Otherwise, most of the entrées are $20 or less and the flatbread pizzas are only $12-$14 each.  Sci-Fi has the second most expensive entrée on the list, the $22.99 butcher steak with a red wine glaze, but also the lowest average entrée cost.  50’s Prime Time Café has the least expensive “most expensive entrée,” which drops it to third, but it also has the most expensive average entrée cost with three entrées that all cost $20.99 each.  At $30.99 per adult, Hollywood and Vine is one of the more expensive buffets, especially for the $26.99 breakfast and lunch.  Both breakfast and lunch are character meals which may add value, but dinner does not feature any characters.

The cost of the top three restaurants are all similar and none of them really present a distinct cost benefit, unless you’re certain that everyone will order the most expensive item on the menu.  Although Mama Melrose is technically the most expensive meal, if someone in your group orders a $12 flatbread pizza then you’ve really ordered one of the cheapest entrées in all of Disney World.  Prices at Sci-Fi and 50’s Prime Time Café are also slightly cheaper at lunch and the most expensive items on the menu are usually absent.  Mama Melrose’s has the same menu for lunch and dinner, which may make it the best value for your dining credit at lunch.

Best Value Out of Pocket

1. 50’s Prime Time Cafe

2. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

3. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

4. Hollywood Brown Derby

5. Hollywood and Vine

The 50’s Prime Time Café is moderately priced with most entrées $20 or less.  Portions are large, the food is freshly prepared, and the entertainment from the old movie clips and your waiter/waitress provide additional value.  Lunch is an even better value, with several sandwiches and salads for $13 or less.  Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater also provides additional entertainment in the form of old movie clips and the setting is one-of-a-kind.  Visit during lunch for a variety of sandwiches and a burger for $14 or less.  Mama Melrose’s doesn’t have a separate lunch menu, but it does have several flatbread pizza entrées in the $12 range.  I wouldn’t recommend most of Mama’s other entrées, so the pizzas are probably your best bet anyway.  The Hollywood Derby is the most expensive restaurant at the Hollywood Studios and it would be in last place if not for the disaster that is Hollywood & Vine.  Although the food and service at Brown Derby are a cut above the other restaurants at the Hollywood Studios, neither is good enough to justify $40 entrées.  If your budget allows for excess then you will find the best food at the Hollywood Derby, but for the value conscious visitor it simply isn’t worth the additional cost.

Best Atmosphere

1. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

2. 50’s Prime Time Café

3. Hollywood Brown Derby

4. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

5. Hollywood and Vine

Both Sci-Fi and 50’s Prime Time feature a fun setting you won’t find anywhere else.  Sci-Fi, with its car-themed seating, starry skies, and B-movie film clips gets the nod over 50’s Prime Time Café’s 1950s-themed diner.  There are a few caveats about the top two choices though.  Sci-Fi is dark and may be difficult for people with vision problems to see the menu or where they’re walking, whether it be to the table or the bathroom.  Expect to be teased at 50’s Prime Time Café.  Your waiter or waitress, known as “mom” or “dad,” may force you to eat your vegetables, tell you to keep your elbows off the table, and make you prepare your own place setting.  If you don’t have a sense of humor or would prefer for your waiter to do little more than bring food and fill glasses, then 50’s Prime Time may not be your best choice.  The Hollywood Brown Derby’s setting is a bit out of place.  Although it tries to be upscale, with the staff wearing tuxedos and the elegant surroundings, it’s a bit strange considering most of the guests are wearing flip flops, Mickey ears, and neon colored shorts.  Suffice to say, the Brown Derby isn’t as immersive as Sci-Fi or 50’s Prime Time and some people may be turned off by the faux-pretentiousness.  Mama Melrose’s, styled from the movie Lady and the Tramp, provides a casual atmosphere with neat overheard lighting, but not much else to impress the eyes.  It’s perfectly suitable, but it won’t be your favorite (unless you teleport away from Disney without going in any other restaurants).  Hollywood and Vine is last on this list as well, with an unremarkable ice cream parlor theme.

Best Food

1. Hollywood Brown Derby

2. 50’s Prime Time Café

3. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

4. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

5. Hollywood & Vine

Bite for bite, you’ll find the best food at Hollywood Brown Derby.  While it might not be worth the cost, there’s no denying that the food is more carefully prepared and uses higher quality ingredients than the other restaurants at the Hollywood Studios.  Second place goes to the Prime Time Café, which serves comfort food that’s easy to prepare and consistently well executed.  At Mama Melrose’s and Sci-Fi, the quality of your meal depends greatly on what you order.  Mama Melrose’s flatbread pizzas are good, but the rest of the food is lacking, especially in the pasta department.  Stick to the pizzas unless you’re in the mood to gamble.  In a similar vein, Sci-Fi serves a delicious hamburger and their onion rings and milkshakes are excellent as well, but you’ll want to stay away from the pasta, steak, tofu, or salad.  Hollywood and Vine is bad from top to bottom.  The only saving grace is the ice cream bar, but even that machine isn’t always working properly.  Breakfast at Hollywood and Vine is better though, so if you want to meet the Little Einstein characters and give your kids a chance to sing and dance with them, then breakfast is your best bet.

Overall Best Sit Down Table Service Restaurant at the Hollywood Studios

1. 50’s Prime Time Café

2. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

3. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

4. Hollywood Brown Derby

5. Hollywood and Vine

50’s Prime Time Café is the most consistent table service restaurant at the Hollywood Studios, with excellent food, an accessible menu, and a fun setting with attentive service.  Mama Melrose’s falls to second due to the inconsistency of the menu and a slightly boring atmosphere, at least compared to 50’s or Sci-Fi.  If you stick with the pizzas then you should have a great, inexpensive meal.  At Sci-Fi I really only recommend the burger or sandwich, onion rings, and a milkshake.  The other entrées aren’t particularly good.  Consider visiting at lunch for a cheaper meal with the exact same atmosphere.  Although the Hollywood Brown Derby does have the best food at Hollywood Studios, it drops all the way to fourth due to its high prices, odd setting, and the length of the meal.  Prepare to spend about one and a half hours at the Brown Derby, depending on how many courses you order.  It’s not a restaurant where you can pop in and out quickly.  Finally, Hollywood and Vine comes in last, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise.  Breakfast is the only edible meal, but at $27 per adult it’s still ridiculously expensive.  Only visit if you have kids that want to run around and sing inside of a restaurant early in the morning.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mini mouse October 26, 2011 at 11:04 am

Josh,
Do you know if Mama Melrose will be closed the last week of Feb/first of March 2012? I can’t get any type of reservation. CM says that none are listed, but nothing noted about refurbishment.

Thanks!

Reply

Dale True April 29, 2012 at 11:57 am

EasyWDW says: “Hollywood Studios is known to have the worst dining choices.”

I don’t think I can agree with this statement, Josh. If we’re talking strictly table service, then I’ll choose the Studio’s offerings over those at Magic Kingdom any day.

However, I do concur with your individual reviews of each restaurant. It’s just the opening comment with which I would take issue.

Reply

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