At last count, there are seven quick-service eateries at the Magic Kingdom, with a few more open seasonally. With that many choices, it can be a tough decision to decide where to eat. While there are some locations we avoid like Pinocchio's Village Haus, Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, where you can get the usual standbys like burgers and chicken nuggets, plus rotisserie chicken, ribs, and healthy sandwiches, is a favorite among the writers here at Everything Walt Disney World.
Cosmic Rays is a large, sunny space with plenty of seating. There are three "bays" where different types of food is served. Although we really like the food and the atmosphere, the three bay approach is a real turn-off. Here's why: if your family wants different types of food from different bays, then you have to split up to order, pay and wait for the food or make several trips. Imagine trying to keep up with several kids.
You almost need a matrix to decide which bay to visit and why! On a recent trip, we marveled at the choices available in some lines but not others.
- Angus Burger: Bay 2 (Burgers) or Bay 3 (Sandwiches)
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich: Bay 1 (Chicken) or Bay 3 (Sandwiches)
- Barbeque Pork Sandwich: Bay 1 (Chicken) but not Bay 3 (Sandwiches)
Kids meals at Cosmic Ray's are the same as everywhere on property: Nuggets, smaller burgers, and fries or fruit (usually grapes). Adults can get the usual burgers and nuggets as well. We are not huge fans of fast food burgers anywhere on property: They're usually tasteless hockey pucks that require you to pile on toppings to make them remotely flavorful. If you do decide on a burger, the toppings bar is huge, with all the usual fixings, plus sauteed mushrooms and onions. Disney being Disney, the toppings bars are usually immaculate despite the crowds that throng this location.
The simple turkey and cheese sandwich is quite good. While we sometimes marvel at how bad the bread and rolls in Disney quick-service locations, can be, this bread actually had flavor and tasted fresh. This sandwich is large and filling, so if you don't have a huge appetite, consider splitting it with someone else.
One of my favorite things on the menu is the chicken and ribs plate, but sadly, it's no longer being served as of a couple of months ago. (Edited to add) It's back! Thanks to one of our readers for pointing it out. You can still get the same tender, flavorful rotisserie chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and crispy green beans for just under $10. It's an excellent buy on the dining plan and big enough to share, but we certainly hope to see the ribs return some day.
The grilled chicken sandwich is a decent choice for people that are tired of burgers. It's served plain but you can add lots of toppings at the self-service bar. When I dug into this sandwich, I was a little disappointed in the flavor and the bun was very dry. It looked fluffy but it was not. I ended up using more condiments than normal.
As always, if you're on the dining plan, we advise against getting the dessert that comes with you meal and opting for a cold bottle of water, fruit, or a container of yogurt instead.
Cosmic Ray's is the only Magic Kingdom eatery (until Fantasyland opens) with entertainment. Sonny Eclipse, an audio-animatronic space lounge lizard performs in the enclosed dining area that faces the Tomorrowland Speedway. He performs a 25-minute loop with a small break between. The songs are charming and based off of familiar standards with different lyrics. The jokes happen to be pretty corny, too.
We've been going to Cosmic Ray's for years and will continue to go: It's consistently one of the better quick-service locations on property.