Map via AllEars.net (photoshopped by me)
One of my favorite restaurants on Disney property is the Sci-Fi Dine In at the Studios. Designed to look like you are hanging out at a vintage drive in movie theatre the atmosphere truly makes this a unique dining experience. When you enter it looked like you've entered behind the walls of a Hollywood sound stage (keeping with the Studios overall movie theme). Once you have checked in you are taken by a greater down a hall and around to the other side of the walls where you are greeted with what looks like a parking lot full of cars all parked in front of a giant movie screen. Depending on your party's size you make get a car all to your group (the cars seat 6 people, 2 in each row). If your group is smaller you may get seated in a car already occupied by some other diners (or you may have strangers join you). Your carhop (aka your server) will greet you and take your drink orders. If you happen to be sitting in the front row you will become the "driver" and "navigator" of the car. And if either join a table already occupied or have others join you in the rows behind they become "hitchhikers". And any or all passengers may be reminded by their carhop to help pitch in for gas ;-)
On my most recent trip we ate there and had been the first time we had been since they made a few changes to the menu. The lunch and dinner menu are the same so you won't be missing anything regardless of when you eat (you can see the whole menu at AllEars.net) As I knew I wanted desert with my meal (after all I was celebrating my birthday) I opted for two appetizers instead of an entree. I had the fried pickles (one of my favorite appetizers in the entire world) and the buffalo popcorn chicken. My husband had the St. Louis style ribs.
I loved the fried pickles, it came with both round pickles and pickle spears which I've never seen before at a restaurant (it's usually one or the other). They came fresh out the fryer, the breading was crispy and the pickles were still juicy. The spicy ranch that comes with them was a bit spicier that I thought it would be, so if you like ranch to dip your stuff but aren't a fan of spice you might want to ask your carhop for some regular ranch. The buffalo popcorn chicken was also spicy but not nearly as spicy as the ranch dip, plus the blue cheese dip that comes with the chicken helps balance the heat. I also really enjoyed my cherry Coke because instead of your typical cherry Coke like what you'd get in a bottle, they use regular Coke and add cherry syrup which I think tastes way better (plus they add a cherry to your drink).
My husband enjoyed the ribs but thought they were a bit overcooked, even with the sauce he said they still tasted a bit dry and a bit like beef jerky. He still ate all of them though plus the baked bean and cole slaw, but overall he said that he'd probably get something different next time. We split dessert, the peanut butter chocolate cake which our carhop was nice enough to bring out with a candle on top for me to blow out. The cake was super moist and comes with a pool of melted chocolate in the middle of it, a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and sprinkled with peanut butter candies (think Reeses Pieces). I love chocolate and peanut butter together so this dessert was made for someone like me and between the two of us we cleaned the plate.
Buffalo popcorn chicken with blue cheese dressing
Fried pickles with spicy ranch dipping sauce and Cherry Coke
House-smoked St. Louis-style Pork Ribs with baked beans and coleslaw
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cake
While the food at Sci-Fi isn't the most spectacular, the atmosphere is what really makes dining here a must do for us. The screen towards the front is large enough that you'll have a good view regardless of where you sit. It shows movie trailers from old "B" sci-fi films like "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" and "Plan 9 From Outer Space" along with news reels showing the latest in technology from the 1950's and 1960's (a fully automated kitchen or a car that drives itself among others) and cartoons (my personal favorite is "The Cat That Hated People"). We've seen all of the clips several times but still get a good laugh out of the campy movie trailers and cartoons.
If you are looking for a unique dining experience I highly recommend giving Sci-Fi Dine In a try. Even at slower times of the year I would still advise making an ADR (advanced dining reservation) due to the restaurant's popularity. You can make an ADR either by going online to DisneyWorld.Disney.Go.com/Dining or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463).