Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The Restaurant of My Wildest Dreams.
On the DVD commentary for The Horror of Party Beach -- a wild tale of bratwurst-bogarting, knock-kneed, and google-eyed monsters running amok and slaughtering helpless beach bunnies to the stomping tunes of the Del-Aires, I recall director Del Tenney mentioning something about selling the rights of that film over to Disney for some kind of Drive-In Theater / Americana attraction in one of their many theme parks. So, about a year ago, when my mom first announced that she was packing up the whole clan -- 17 folks in total -- for a return trip to DisneyWorld, tops on my priority list was tracking this attraction down -- if it truly existed.
Well, I'm happy to report that it does exist, and in fact, is a gonzoidal B-Movie themed restaurant / dining experience. Nestled in between Star Tours (the Star Wars flight simulator) and the Muppet Vision 3-D experience at Disney/MGM's Hollywood Studios, sets the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.
And a fairly popular attraction and eatery it turned out to be, too, as it took three attempts in as many days to finally land a coveted reservation. Once inside, past the posters in the lobby and thru the gate, you enter a large amphitheater, but instead of the customary seats, you'll find '50s-era autos, all tail-fins, chrome and vinyl, facing a large drive-in theater screen. To the back is the kitchen/snack bar, and up above, LED lights twinkle down on a clear night. Over the speakers, warnings blare of some unseen menace as you settle into your seats and place your order.
Then, as you wait for your burger and milkshake, up on the screen runs a constant stream of old B-Movie clips and a barrage of monster-movie trailers, wacky educational shorts and newsreels, old-school snack-bar adverts and vintage cartoons -- and the captive audience eats it all up.
Then, in a total state of an Euphoric Nerdgasm, your food arrives. And that strange, juicy taste you encounter when biting into your Angus Chuck Burger is another nostalgic treat called grease -- something sorely lacking in today's health-conscious world. And as I sat there, soaking it all in, watching my sister's kids gawk and laugh at the trailer for The Amazing Colossal Man, I realized this place was like someone had crawled inside my head and tapped my brain for what I would envision to be the ultimate dining experience, and then -- somehow -- made it a reality. In the end, I'd highly recommend the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for the atmosphere alone, but the food and shakes weren't half bad either. So if you're ever in Orlando, be sure to check it out.