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Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater with Young Children

Monday, February 27, 2012

(Photo courtesy of: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com )

Each trip to Walt Disney World, we like to try at least one new Disney restaurant, among our other favourites. The last time we were there, we decided to give Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, in Disney's Hollywood Studios a try. We thought it would be an interesting choice for our family of two adults and two toddlers given that they had a new menu that sounded appealing to us, and that we knew that this restaurant ressembled a drive-in, thereby allowing you to watch movies while you ate. What a perfect distraction for the kids, we thought!

Of course we made reservations well in advance but there was still about a 15 minute wait when we arrived. When we were called, our host explained that we were being transported back to a drive-in during the 1950s. The excitement was building! Theming is one of my favourite things, and it's definitely something that Disney does best! Whether it be for an attraction, a restaurant, or even a simple queue, Disney is second to none at transporting you to another time, place, and feeling. But I digress.... Yes, the excitement was building, just as it was when we were seated for the first time at 50's Prime Time. Disney certainly outdid itself with the theming in that restaurant. Anyway, I let the host know that we would be needing one high chair.

We were seated at a table that actually resembled a car (see picture)! I was in theming heaven! I thought the kids would be pleased, too, as we were seated with a clear view of the giant movie screen! Since the table is a car, you must sit two in the front, two in the back. Again, this seating arrangment was very exciting, as it was something new. The actual eating surfaces weren't actually tables, either. They looked more like glorified dashboards. It would be more than sufficient to eat on for older children and adults, but I started to wonder where my son's high chair would go. I didn't have to worry about that for awhile since it took what seemed like forever for the server to bring us our high chair. In the meantime, my son sat in the front of the car with me. It was very difficult to keep him contained in this bench-seat-styled car-table. I'm sure this seating arrangement didn't make him think of eating either. In fact, I'm sure eating was the last thing on his mind. He was too fascinated by the car's windshield and by trying to climb out of the car to eat. Most of my dinner was spent trying to contain him inside the car-table. Finally, our high chair came.

As I'm sure you know, the wooden high chairs that are found in most of Disney's restaurants don't come with a tray. This means that the baby's food has to be placed on the actual table - but, remember that there isn't an actual table in these cars. I tried to pull my son's high chair up as close to the glorified dashboard as possible, but still he could not reach the table. He was 15 months old and no longer enjoys being spoon-fed, so trying to get him to eat on his own from a "table" out of his reach was less than enjoyable. I started to look around to see if there were other young children in this restaurant. Surely, my baby is not the first to eat here! What do other parents do? Then I saw them. Regular tables! Sure they had hoods and trunks and head and tail lights, but they were actually tables! Tables to which high chairs could be pulled right up. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but in the entire restaurant, I only spotted two of these kinds of tables... and they were both taken. I made a mental note to ask for one of these tables in future.

Now onto the second issue that we ran into. My three year-old did NOT enjoy the horror movie clips. We had really billed this restaurant to her as a place where we could watch movies while we ate! She was probably expecting Tangled, or Beauty and the Beast. Well, what she got was monsters, killer bugs, and robots. Every two seconds, she would ask my husband why there was a giant ant or an ugly monster on TV, and she would continously reassure herself that these were NOT scary. Uh oh! Not the best choice of programming for a toddler who is afraid of shadows at bedtime.

On the bright side, the food was good! While I would definitely like to return to this restaurant in the future, as the theming and food were great, I think this is one we will save for when the children are a bit older, or for when we have babysitters! ;-)

About this column

Danielle Perry shares the adventures and challenges of travelling to Walt Disney World as a family.


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