But, today we’re going to a one-of-its-kind restaurant that is absolutely iconic and really captures that old Hollywood spirit found throughout the park — Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant! Between the incredible atmosphere and the classic burgers and shakes, there’s SO much to love here. So, what did we think about this spot the last time we visited, and should it still be a must-do for you? Find out here!
So heads-up, we personally experienced a bit of a strange technical issue with our reservation here. We made our reservation for Sci-Fi Dine-In just like how we normally would through the My Disney Experience mobile app. We then moved the reservation for a new day and we made sure to take a screenshot of the confirmation page and number (we always do and we encourage you to do the same!), which became KEY to our ability to eat here.
The day before we were scheduled to eat at this fabulous spot, we realized that the reservation was not showing up in our plans on the app! (see, technical glitches happen to ALL of us!) We spoke with Disney and they said that we had missed the reservation because it was apparently still showing up as the original date we had scheduled it for. We let them know that we had moved it to another date and had confirmation of the change.
But on the day we had moved the reservation to, we took a chance and stopped by Sci-Fi in person. We explained the situation to them and showed them the screenshot we had of the confirmed new date. The Cast Members there were able to help us and got us in for our reservation!
So, the moral of this story is
- ALWAYS screenshot any important reservations or reservation changes. If the system later experiences technical issues and isn’t showing your reservations correctly, at least you’ll have a back-up confirmation of the plans you had made; and
- Take a chance and speak to another Cast Member if the first couldn’t help you out. Worst case scenario, they can’t help you and you go on with your day. Best case scenario, you get to eat at the spot you wanted or otherwise enjoy the plans you had set!
Okay, now if you didn’t have any reservation issues and just wanted to check-in the normal way, Sci-Fi is utilizing the Mobile Dining Check-in procedure we’ve seen at restaurants around Disney World. You’ll check-in through the My Disney Experience mobile app, fill out the questionnaire specifying members in your party, dietary or mobility needs, celebrations, and more. You’ll then receive a text confirming that you’ve checked in and the restaurant will let you know when your table is ready. Easy peasy!
Once your table is ready, you’ll receive a text to head to the host stand and then you’ll quickly get seated!
We will get to the food in a minute, but we think the biggest things that make Sci-Fi Dine-In an absolute MUST-DO is the atmosphere! The waiting area in the front of the restaurant is rather unassuming (it’s made to look like you’re in a soundstage. Peek at the walls near the podium and you’ll find MGM-Studios still spraypainted on the plywood walls!), but once your host brings you into the main restaurant area, you’ll be transported to a totally different time and place.
The main dining area is decked out to look just like you’ve stepped into a drive-in movie theatre. Although there are some picnic tables in the back, most of the seats and tables are contained within individual little cars! Especially if you’ve got little kids, it can be a great treat for them to take the front seats and have the parents to sit in the back. It can make the little ones feel like they’re driving the car and on their own — plus, it can give the parents a little bit of break with some time (relatively) on their own.
Truly, no detail here is overlooked! The walls are all decorated to look like you’re parked outside, at night, in the middle of a drive-in theatre…
…there are speakers next to each of the cars, just as there would be in a true drive-in…
…and there’s a giant screen in the front showing all kinds of retro content that kids and adults will both love. The entertainment value at this restaurant should NOT be overlooked! It may not be a character meal, like Hollywood & Vine, or a meal with live entertainment like Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, but it’s still incredibly fun. Never underestimate the power of putting a T.V. (or big screen equivalent) in front of your kids. MAGIC. This is one of a few meals we’ve enjoyed with our kids in peace and quiet with little to no fighting. They get to watch cartoons while they chow down!!
You’ll get to watch everything from cartoon shorts to Drive-In movie theatre ads for popcorn and snacks, along with retro movie clips and trailers. OH and there’s an ad for the kitchen of the future that’ll make you wish we were living in the retro-future right now!
The cars are relatively spaced out to begin with, but as far as social distancing, we noticed no one was seated in the cars in the row next to us, and no one else was seated in our same car that wasn’t from our party, but there was a family sitting in the car behind us.
The atmosphere and entertainment here are awesome added values to the overall dining experience. Believe us when we say, just walking around the corner and getting the “reveal” of this space is worth a visit at least once in your life (if not multiple times).
It really transports you to another time — where Drive-In theaters were all the rage (although they are definitely making a comeback in 2020!) and snacking on some tasty food while watching a movie was the definition of a perfect night out.
Speaking of tasty food, let’s get to the eats here! The menu at Sci-Fi Dine-In is not extremely extensive, but it does have a variety of appetizers, entrees, desserts, shakes, and drinks that will likely fit the needs of every member of your party. The name of the game here is classic American-style diner type foods. The drink menu offers up beer, wine, non-alcoholic milkshakes and a few mixed drinks under the Cosmic Concoctions section!
Apps here as simple but satisfying. Note that appetizers are a LOT trickier to share here if you’re trying to pass food between rows of your car/table with a larger party!
For Entrees, burgers are the star. You’ll find a couple other options but “when in Rome,” right? We tend to stick to the burgers or sammies.
The Kids’ Menu is a build-your-own type situation like we’ve seen at more and more locations.
Dessert options here have always been limited but they DO still have that giant “candy bar” dessert which was ::chef’s kiss.””
First up, we ordered a Coke. It just feels right in an old-timey spot like this! (Anyone else miss Club Cool in EPCOT?)
But, no trip to Sci-Fi is complete without some kind of milkshake! While there are quite a few alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options to choose from, we went with Orbiting Oreos! This drink is $16 and is made of an Oreo shake mixed with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and a souvenir Glow Cube.
Who doesn’t love a drink with a glow cube?! They’re such a great, small souvenir and can definitely just make you feel like a kid again! Plus, in this darker atmosphere, they really glow a lot and add a lot of fun to the whole experience. In terms of the drink itself, it was delicious! Oreo shake + chocolate liqueur — really, how could you go wrong with that?! It’s not overly boozy but is a great adult way to enjoy a shake with your meal!
We started our meal with the Fried Dill Pickles appetizer…
…which is served with a Horseradish Dipping Sauce. This appetizer is priced at $10. One thing VERY worth nothing here you probably can tell from the pictures — it is DARK in this restaurant. It is a theater outdoors at night after all! The tables in each car have a strip of dim lighting to help you out as you eat but it still feels like fumbling around in the dark. You’ve been warned!
We really liked these fried pickles when we had them last year, but this visit…not so much. Personally, we found these pickles to be rather disappointing. We were hoping for a good crunch, but instead, they had more of a soft texture. You can tell from the pictures they’re a little on the greasy side. Definitely not what we were looking for.
Hopefully, it was a one-time issue and that they’ll be back to being a crunchy delight in the future. If you’re not a fan of horseradish, don’t be too turned off by the dipping sauce — the flavor is mild and not overwhelming with that nose-singeing horseradish sensation you either love or hate.
As we mentioned, when it comes to Sci-Fi Dine-In, the go-to is definitely a burger and a shake. So, we ordered a Beef and Blue Burger as our main course to test it out!
This burger is $19 and is made with the restaurant’s Signature Blend of Beef on a Brioche Roll topped with Blue Cheese, Onion Marmalade, Bacon, Lettuce, and a Gourmet Tomato. And yes, it’s very yummy!
We were actually really impressed by the burger! It was a really good size overall in terms of portion, and it was cooked just as we ordered — we usually have good luck with our burgers being cooked to temperature here. We also felt like it had a good amount of blue cheese to really add some delicious flavor.
For our side, we substituted our fries for onion rings! These were crunchy and delicious — a great compliment to the burger.
Pro-tip for eating at Sci-Fi: you used to be able to get some free popcorn in the waiting/check-in area at this restaurant. That wasn’t available when we last visited, so we were definitely glad we brought our trusty popcorn bucket with us to get that full drive-in theatre effect! We filled up with a $2 refill at a popcorn stand near Sci-Fi before checking in and were good to go! Nothing like popcorn at the movies.
Overall, we’d say that, at least for us, Sci-Fi EQUALS burgers and milkshakes (and popcorn). Although there are other options on the menu, if you enjoy a good burger and shake (and maybe even dunk your fries or other food into your milkshakes, no judgment) that’s definitely the way to go here.
Nosh or Not
Consider dining at Sci-Fi Dine-In if:
- You really want to get that retro, Hollywood Studios vibe. The atmosphere here is fantastic and one of the best you’ll get anywhere in Disney World.
- You like some entertainment with your meal. The shorts, movie trailers, and other things shown on the big screen are absolutely fantastic and give a lot of added value to this spot.
- You are a fan of classic foods like burgers and shakes. Like we said, those are the go-to items here.
You may want to skip Sci-Fi Dine-In if:
- You’re in a hurry and want to eat somewhere really quickly before running to Slinky Dog Dash or some of the other big rides. To truly enjoy this spot, you’ll want to give yourself enough time to watch the full movie and trailers loop and just enjoy your meal in the cool atmosphere.
- You’re looking for some really unique food or a SUPER special burger. The food here is good, but nothing incredibly special. It’s not the type of spot where you say “wow! I can’t get this anywhere else” or “wow! This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten!” So, if you’re looking for that type of food experience, this may not be the place for you.
- You want to be able to look at and converse with the other member of your party while you dine. As we mentioned, you’ll likely be looking at the back of your kids’ or grandma’s head instead of chit-chatting here!
Overall, Sci-Fi Dine-In still has all the charm and nostalgia we’ve always loved about it. The food here is good, but not anything that’ll blow your mind. But, mix a pretty good burger and fries (or onion rings) with a yummy milkshake, and a fun, retro atmosphere, and you’ve got yourself a nice little getaway. If you’ve never eaten here, we’d say it’s definitely a place HIGHLY recommend you go at least once in your trips to Disney World. It’s kitchy and unlike any other dining spot in the parks — you don’t get to have a meal IN a car booth that often! The flicks on the screen are fun and it really does feel like you’re sitting outside! Oh, and beware of the blob!
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
Have you ever eaten at Sci-Fi Dine-In? What’s your favorite thing to order there? Let us know in the comments!