We’ll take a moment to check out what’s happening at Downtown Disney as it continues its transformation to Disney Springs. Spoiler: It’s mostly pictures of walls.
The parking lots around Pleasure Island and some on the West Side remain closed as Disney builds two parking garages to help handle capacity. If you’re driving, the best place to park remains the West Side all the way down to the left of La Nouba and House of Blues. Getting to Downtown Disney remains a significant hassle most of the day whether you drive or take Disney buses. Traffic congestion is significant and parking is limited, to the point where Disney opens up the Team Disney parking lot across the street to increase the number of parking spots available. Arriving before 5pm on a weekday remains the best bet. There will be plenty of room to park and crowds are lower.
Food trucks arrived on scene a few months ago. There are four in all – two usually parked outside La Nouba and two others somewhere else. If that helps.
World Showcase of Flavors was sitting in between House of Blues and Wolfgang Puck and Fantasy Fare was all the way out by World of Disney. Hours vary.
They should at least be open from Wednesday – Sunday from 5pm – 11pm. Fantasy Fare and World Showcase of Flavors were operating in the afternoon and the other two were scheduled to come online at 4pm on this particular Sunday. West Side quick service pickings are fairly slim with just the Bongos sandwich window, Wolfgang Puck Express with its limited menu of pizzas, and The Smokehouse. My favorite quick service on the cheap is Earl of Sandwich. Cooke’s of Dublin is very good and Wolfgang Puck Express on the Marketplace side serves up table service quality food for a bit more than you’d pay for quick service elsewhere. But it’s worth it, particularly with the Dining Plan where you can put together a quick service meal for around $25.
House of Blues recently converted its ticket window to a quick service barbecue joint.
Pricing is lower than its theme park counterparts.
They don’t let me air my opinions about runDisney on here, but the Fit 2 Run store is relatively new for those of you who just can’t wait to drop another grand to walk around the Animal Kingdom parking lot wearing the flyest gear. Remember: the more expensive the shirt, the more aerodynamic you become.
Walls basically line the entirety of the West Side and Pleasure Island.
This area is supposed to become whatever a “New York City High Line” is with an opening date later this year. Disney is still yet to confirm a single new tenant, but expect flagship versions of the most common mall brands as Disney attempts to capture as much international $$$ as possible..
Avatar – Summer 2037.
One of the two Starbucks coming to Downtown Disney is located at the old Wetzel’s Pretzels.
It has taken like six months to get this far.
Walls all along Planet Hollywood.
One of the new parking garages.
Pleasure Island is completely walled off.
Most of the old club buildings remain.
A walkway around the Island circumvents the construction.
Watercraft transportation is still available from Port Orleans Riverside, French Quarter, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs.
Paradiso 37 remains open for those looking to dine avec the glorious view of walls.
Construction continues on the bridge that will eventually connect the World of Disney and Rainforest Cafe areas.
The building that houses Pollo Campero, BabyCakes NYC, and Bodie’s All American is being demolished as part of the Springs project and their last day of operation is March 19th. BabyCakes is slated to continue providing products to select resorts. I would guess they’ll be shipping them in.
The other Starbucks is under construction in front of World of Disney.
Team Mickey is closed during its transformation to the “Marketplace Co-Op.”
Twitter was aflutter with Disney Parks Blog’s pictures of some of the merchandise destined for the Co-Op. I guess because the world’s largest media conglomerate should be congratulated for releasing merch someone is actually interested in buying. At least until we see the prices.
Cap’n Jack’s and the marina are gone.
Raglan Road began serving brunch on Sundays from 11am – 4pm over a year ago. This entire menu is available in addition to a “Host the Roast” described at the bottom of their website. The Roast Host requires 48 hours notice and costs a minimum of $26 per person. Proof spontaneity is dead.
The usual drink menu is available. I was expecting some brunch specials, but they were not listed. The server mentioned they “have mimosas and all that good stuff” but I have a fear that if I order a drink without a price that it will come with a $5,000 bill. Bottle pricing here is pretty nuts. A 4-pack of Duvel runs $11 at the grocery store or $14 a pop here. A 12-pack of Abita Purple Haze would run you $15 at the store or $8 each here. Occasionally someone will accuse me of spending a lot of time at Raglan Road, but I can assure you that is not the case.
Whiskeys and such.
Wine. The smart money is probably on the Penfold’s, which run $10 a bottle in stores.
The sangria was cold and refreshing on a warm afternoon.
Securing reservations an hour earlier for 11:30am was not a problem via OpenTable. If Disney doesn’t show availability at a DTD restaurant, try OpenTable where many are listed.
The music and dancing start at 12pm. The 11:30am reservation gave us some time to be seated, order, and chat a bit before it became too loud to think.
Request a table with a view if it’s important to you when you check in.
Tables in the back have virtually no view.
Others behind the stage in the corner “literally” have no view, but are quieter.
Request a booth for a bit of privacy.
We started with the Salmon Swoon – Choice Irish smoked salmon served with capers, shallots & créme fraiche – $13. Quality was high, but the salmon was sliced awfully thin, resulting in not a whole lot of food for the money. On past visits, I haven’t been impressed by the size of the appetizers, especially considering most are just a couple dollars less expensive than the entrees.
Excellent, complementary Irish soda bread with Raglan’s signature Guinness glaze accompanies brunch.
Lisa ordered the Pancakes Diaspora – Homemade pancakes with crème fraîche, maple syrup and mixed berry compote – $12, which consisted of five substantial, perfectly fluffy pancakes with accompaniments. The pancakes were a bit dry, but the syrup, cream, and fruit livened them up immensely. It would have been plenty for two to share.
Nothing on the menu jumped out at me. The Full Irish was the most bloggable, but I don’t care for blood sausage, mushrooms, or tomatoes. The Roast of the Day was a 13-ounce steak, which sounded a little heavy for a morning meal. I decided on the the Eggs Benedict – Two soft-poached eggs on a toasted English muffin with pancetta smothered in hollandaise sauce and served with roasties. And a tomato, apparently.
Attention to detail was high with the perfectly poached egg sitting on top of a nicely toasted muffin. The hollandaise sauce wasn’t great in my estimation – thin and overly lemony instead of rich and decadent.
These are apparently “roasties,” which are different than what was originally served. They were expertly roasted and retained much of their firmness. Very good.
Raglan Road is better late at night when the pub atmosphere is in full force. For brunch, it was a lot of sober people trying to talk over the music. Virtually everything that came out of the kitchen from the regular menu looked better than the brunch counterparts. It may have been our mistake not to go “more Irish” with our selections.