We’ll head out to Epcot on the afternoon of Sunday September 1st. Crowd levels over the last week have been lower than anticipated. Disney was expecting a wacky number of people over Labor Day Weekend, potentially due to some schools up north not returning until next week. But heavy crowds did not descend on the world’s most popular collection of theme parks and wait times have been low. Magic Kingdom was a little nutty on Sunday night with the late close and evening Extra Magic Hours, but once you got away from Main Street, things weren’t too congested. And with the lousy weather and EMH out to 3am, you could basically walk on anything after midnight.
Walls are down in the center section of the entrance.
Classic turnstiles are still available over to the left. None of them were operating and cast members were scanning legacy tickets with iPhones.
FastPass+ feedback continues to be overwhelmingly positive. Guests love wearing their bands. And they love being able to schedule whatever attraction they want at whatever time they want. This thread: There is absolutely no down side to FP+ – just back! on the DIS is typical. Perhaps the biggest problem with feedback from the current test is that they are not testing reality. Once FP+ goes live resort-wide, there will be no such thing as changing your Toy Story Mania reservation from 9:30am to 10:30am because there will be no slots left. Because the test is still relatively limited, MagicBand wearers run into virtually nobody in front of them at the attractions that haven’t historically offered FASTPASS. That means a user would walk right on Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, etc. It also means there’s virtually nobody at the reserved viewing locations for Main Street Electrical Parade, Fantasmic, etc. And then of course, testers also have access to the regular FASTPASS system on top of everything else. But it will be interesting to see how things play out. Beginning September 3rd, all guests checking in at Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House, Art of Animation, Beach Club Resort and Villas, Contemporary, Polynesian, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, and Yacht Club should receive MagicBands and will have full access to everything MyMagic+, including FastPass+. Currently, the biggest problem they’re having is with guests using their Bands to pay for table service meals.
The joys of September as we’ll be able to walk right on Spaceship Earth.
The attraction closed for a few days last week for refurbishment so I took a video of most of the ride. It “felt like” the animatronics were working better than usual, but I don’t have the best memory.
With a lot of on-site guests taking advantage of the “free dining” offer, restaurants will be busier than usual this month, even if overall crowds are the lowest of the year. You can make reservations for most restaurants on the same day and you absolutely want to have a reservation if you’re planning a table service meal. You can make a reservation at guest services, your resort concierge, through Disney’s My Disney Experience phone app or by calling 407-WDW-DINE. Looking at reservations for a family of four around 7pm, there are 53 restaurants with availability right now. Without a reservation, you may be turned away entirely, even if reservations are available. I was taking pictures of the Les Chefs menu and the poor cast member was telling a couple that they weren’t taking walk-ups at all. The restaurant was mostly empty.
This is just about as good as it gets here at Epcot. Soarin’ still has FASTPASSes available at 3:10pm and they’ll be available through 7:30pm. In July, FASTPASSes would routinely be gone by 1:30pm for both Soarin’ and Test Track.
Disney seemed to keep going back and forth with the kiosk on the left outside Electric Umbrella.
It’s kind of an ugly bugger in the middle of the busiest walkway at Epcot.
But there really aren’t that many places in Future World to grab a scoop of popcorn. You’d have to walk all the way over to Test Track or Imagination for your smartwater and we live in a society where people drive to the mailbox to pick up their gym membership bill.
Unlike Hollywood Studios, where we really did not see any interesting menu changes, Epcot does have a few goodies up its sleeves. If you don’t want to waste your time with the ridiculous length of this post, the biggest changes are at Liberty Inn and Sommerfest. This post is kind of redundant as we took a good look at everything World Showcase last month.
We’ll start with Electric Umbrella:
That Macaroni & Cheese Burger replaces the Mushroom and Swiss Cheeseburger. With macaroni and cheese, bacon, and another slice of cheese added for good measure, I’m surprised it isn’t graced with a Mickey Check.
The Kids’ Flatbread here is a good value at $5.99. You get half of the adult portion, in addition to two sides and a drink. So for $2.30 more than the regular adult flatbread, you’d come away with a whole flatbread, four sides, and two drinks if you ordered two kids’ meals. Like Restaurantosaurus, Backlot Express, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Sunshine Seasons, the beverage dispensers are self-serve and refills are free.
I actually really enjoyed the flatbread. I read a review somewhere that complained that theirs was burnt and their subsequent flatbread was undercooked. But it is not burned, despite the color that might indicate otherwise. This had a nice gooey layer of cheese over a bed of mushrooms and a crispy flatbread crust. The arugula on top added an additional bit of crunch. This would be a terrific vegetarian option if the kids are demanding burgers and nuggets and you have no choice but to head to the Umbrella.
It replaces this flatbread, which was cold vegetable glop stuck on top of red pepper paste. No cheese or anything. Yuck.
One of my darkest days was when I found out baby carrots are really just full size carrots cut into pieces. These were dry, but okay if you’re in the market. Disney grapes tend to be a little slimy, but most hold up well enough. Subbing in the fries and cookie would add calories and heft to the meal.
While not advertised, the kids fountain beverages are still available.
A lousy picture of your options.
Proceeding to our left past Electric Umbrella and Mouse Gear, there are two kiosks to the right.
As I mentioned in the Whispering Canyon lunch review, if you’re trying to launch a new alcoholic beverage, you may want to name it something that Disney can use at one of its parks or resorts. That isn’t the case with the Racer 5, which is actually a stellar IPA. The $8.50 charge is a bit hard to swallow, though Racer 5 is on the expensive side with a six-pack running around $10.99.
This is one of four Joffrey locations inside Epcot. Ellen’s Energy Adventure is up ahead.
The coffee drinks should be a step above what you’d get at most Disney locations.
Walls at Fountain View Cafe came down September 3rd ahead of the September 4th grand unveiling of the new Starbucks.
Character Spot continues to see nonexistent wait times since the refurbishment sent Mickey and the gang behind walls.
This kiosk out in front of The Land is fairly new as far as I can remember.
The almonds/pecans are a nice shareable snack and an excellent use of a snack credit.
This kiosk is occasionally open in heavier crowds. It serves frozen beverages.
Another kiosk on the way to Imagination.
More of the same.
Installation at Epcot’s newest attraction is complete. And in the true spirit of Future World, it doesn’t work at the moment.
One of Disney’s biggest construction projects.
Sunshine Seasons is the ground floor quick service that receives nearly universal acclaim:
The price on the Chicken is up $1.60 to $11.79. That might be the biggest price increase resort-wise. The fish is 80 cents more and the pork chop’s price is the same. The salmon Kids’ Picks is new.
Items are the same here, though prices are higher.
The Caesar Salad is up $1.10, though it’s better than most because it uses fresh chicken.
The Tamarind Vegan Beef with Jasmine Rice replaces the Orange Sesame Glazed Vegan Chik’n Chunks with Stir-Fry Noodles. The other items are $1.30 more expensive than before.
The Steak and Blue Cheese replaces the Roasted Pork Banh Mi Style Panini.
The Banh Mi was pretty good, though I suspect they didn’t sell a whole lot. But blue cheese is one divisive cheese! So that might also turn people off.
That Apple Caramel Crunch looks good!
If you’re in Future World around meal time, a stop at Sunshine Seasons is a no-brainer. It also offers plentiful air-conditioned seating in an area that is generally not-as-mind-numbingly-loud-as-Liberty-Inn.
Prices at Garden Grill fluctuate so often they don’t even have enough signs to post how much it costs on any given evening. If you have to ask…Assume adults are $40 and kids are $20. It could potentially be $1 more or $2 less. Why they even bother…
Promenade Refreshments is the first kiosk you’ll see on your way to Canada. It doubles as the $15/glass Moet booth during the Food and Wine Festival, when a different menu is offered.
One thing you might notice here is that prices appear to be cheaper than Future World. Prices are actually the same/very close to the same. Tax is included at most of the kiosks, causing the price to seem 25 cents more expensive. This gives people paying cash to have an opportunity to find exact change.
Refreshment Port up next on your right.
The website still cries over the loss of the Spicy Chicken Jalapeno Poppers. Never forget.
The Crispy Fried Shrimp seem impervious to price increases and are excellent.
Conversely, you could opt for a $56 steak from Le Cellier.
If Disney brings back Unibroues for Food/Wine I might just move into the Canada Pavilion.
This Joffrey location, situated in between the Canada and UK Pavilions, is in kind of an unassuming location.
UK but mostly England.
Newcastle Brown Ale replaces Woodpecker Cider.
How is it that there are always bugs attached to the menus? I’m not interested in Mandy’s Mess.
It might be time to replace this menu holder. You can get out of Rose & Crown relatively cheaply, but I’m not sure you’d want to these days.
What happens when you screw up your camera’s settings even more than usual and shoot at ISO 102,000. The Winnie the Pooh characters will be meeting outside near the International Gateway entrance/exit daily from 1pm – 8:45pm through early October while their meet here is refurbished.
Yorkshire continues serving the one entree. I still get a kick out of the fact that they now stock bags of chips because people demand them based on the menu description.
That’s where Pooh and the gang will be greeting. You’ll see the walkway to the right after you exit the UK and near the bridge over to France.
Only one set of tapstiles is open at the Gateway. So few people are present for rope drop that the slight delay shouldn’t adversely affect your morning.
There should be less confusion now that “Coco-White Chocolate” is fully spelled out. Pineapple sorbet has replaced melon and the chocolate macaron sandwich replaces the cherry ice cream.
Pricing is the same as when it opened a few months ago.
Not sure how the macaron sandwich works should you order it. They’re “literally” little sandwiches.
Over at the Boulangerie, here’s the current menu:
The Tartine Provencal is an addition to the warm sandwich menu and Brie Aux Pommes is new on the cold sandwich section. The Lobster Bisque moves to the specialties menu, replacing the Saucisse. The Gourmandises on the bottom right of the last menu all look to be new additions.
The Monsieur Paul menu looks to be the same.
Current dinner: http://www.easywdw.com/reports9/chefdinner.jpg.
France wine out on the promenade:
I tried the chocolate crepe for the first time a few weeks ago and thought it tasted like a wet paper bag.
Spice Road Table in Morocco is supposed to open before the end of the year.
No changes at Tangierine Cafe, which may be home to the most unfortunate Kids Picks menu on property. It certainly wouldn’t be difficult to offer a smaller portion of some of the platter or wrap options. But it might also go back to jerks like me that order a kids’ meal even though we are (arguably) adults.
Moving over to the outdoor kiosk.
The bottle of Casa is the only authentic item on the menu here.
Tangerine Wheat is brewed by Lost Coast Brewery. At 5% ABV, this is a refreshing beer with a fairly strong citrus flavor and grassy, earthy hops. It’s quite refreshing and would be my pick if I didn’t mind the fact that it is not exactly Moroccan.
The Sake bar is a good choice if you’re looking for a fruity drink low on actual alcohol content.
Formerly Yakitori House, Katsura Grill sits higher up.
Everything looks to be the same here.
Kabuki Cafe in context.
You may remember Kabuki added a few sushi items last month. I have still never encountered anyone that enjoyed the Kirin Frozen.
As if there’s anything more American than fried dough.
$10.25 for a funnel cake with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
The restrooms, which should open just in time for Food and Wine.
Historically, Liberty Inn has shared the same abysmal reputation as Electric Umbrella.
This is the menu that debuted last year:
There were a few decent, moderately healthy options including the Grilled Chicken Flatbread and Black Bean Vegetable Burger. Disney also tested a steak and a Texas half chicken over the course of the year.
The new menu is another step in what might be the right direction, adding new salads, a different take on the Disney burger, and putting the chicken in a bun.
The Pork Sandwich is now advertised as being “Smoky Mountain,” whatever that means. The S’mores Mousse Brownie is now Rocky Road. Chili and Chili Cheese Fries don’t look to be available individually anymore and the Rice Krispie and No Sugar Added Brownie are no longer listed.
The beer menu adds Anchor Liberty Ale and Sweetwater IPA on draft. It’s an excellent IPA that is incredibly popular down here in the south. As far as I know, they don’t distribute north of around Tennessee and no further west than Louisiana. It’s worth popping into Liberty Inn if you’re looking for an interesting beer, as opposed to the Bud Light and Sam Adams available outside at Fife & Drum Tavern. At 6.5%, this is not a particularly bitter IPA like some, though the presence of earthy hops are still there.
Speaking of Fife & Drum, here we are. Price increases are the same as elsewhere. At least our Sutter Home Merlot is only 55 cents more expensive.
Of course we get another restaurant in Morocco instead of a speakeasy in the U.S.
Strike a pose.
On Italy’s right side across from Tutto Italia, you’ll see this cart offering a glass of wine and a scoop of sorbet.
If the women of the world came together to create the perfect dessert, this would probably be it.
Beer and cocktails.
Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports9/gustowine.jpg. An example of a page of wine. You can also order anything off the Tutto Italia menu, which sits adjacent. The wine list seemed a little thinner than usual, but that may just be my imagination. I’m not sure how many $418 bottles of wine they sell.
Strike a pose.
Skip the Montegrande.
Yet another Italian kiosk. It would be pretty awesome if Italy would get a decent quick service pizzeria. People get excited when the pizza window next to Via Napoli opens, but the pizzas there aren’t from Via Napoli. Of course, decent quick service pizza would cut into the business of Napoli, Gusto, and Italia.
I’ve never tried one of those spendy gelato creations. Are they any good?
Looking back at Italy on our way to Germany in light crowds over the holiday weekend.
Disney Parks Blog ran an article a few weeks ago about “bright new tastes” coming to Biergarten and Sommerfest. This is the new menu.
Sommerfest has historically operated with exactly two entrees – the Frankfurter and the Bratwurst. Two new entrees and the Nudel Gratin arrived on September 1st, in addition to the Paprika Chips.
We ran into the potato salad a few weeks ago. At that time, it was advertised as “German Potato Salad.” Now it’s just “Cold.”
While the pretzels are no longer available here, they are available in two other German locations – the Bier stand on the right side of the Pavilion and the Trinken Cart out on the promenade. I like the brats here and I’m not ordinarily a fan of sauerkraut. The roll might be a little bread-y, but they do have spicy mustard readily available these days should you wish to spice things up a bit.
On the right is the Currywurst – Pan-seared fine Brat with Curry Ketchup, Curry Seasoning, and House-made Paprika Chips – $8.99. On the left is the $3.49 Nudel Gratin.
I had no idea what to expect from the Currywurst. It turned out to be a bland sausage topped with a forgettable ketchup and a sprinkle of curry powder. I was expecting a bit of a crunch from the exterior of the brat, but that wasn’t present either. I wouldn’t characterize the dish as bad necessarily, there just was not a lot of flavor for an item that seems like it should scream layers of complexity in my mouth. The scarce sprinkle of curry powder did add some curry flavor as one might expect.
Perhaps I am not a paprika person, but I didn’t care much for their chips either. They were basically the standard Disney chip with a dusting of paprika. On the plus side, the dish was filling, yet “felt” light in my tummy. It was not the gut bomb that I’m sure that Electric Umbrella hamburger is. And the sausage and chips would be extremely easy to share if you’re looking for a hearty snack to share that isn’t the pretzel.
The Nudel Gratin was better. Both items were served piping hot, to the point where they were still warm after I fiddled around with the pictures.
Half eaten for your viewing pleasure. This is a baked macaroni/heavy cream/cheese/egg hunk that should be similar/the same as what’s served at Biergarten. It was not as creamy and rich as I was expecting, which might be a good thing. It otherwise tastes like baked macaroni and cheese. For about treefiddy, you could certainly do worse.
Sommerfest’s biggest deterrent for me is the lack of seating. There are only a handful of tables under cover and just two or three outside. I ended up placing my food on the concrete bench that surrounds the fountain and ate standing up. It is not the most relaxing way to enjoy the meal and if it starts raining, you’re kind of screwed unless you want to huddle inside with everyone else.
The covered up item is a Barenjager Honey Liqueur and Bourbon drink. CAN. NOT. WAIT.
The Trinken Cart was closed with lightning in the area, but this is what you can expect.
Moving along to the Refreshment Cool Post.
Not much to it, but you might want to stop for an ice cream sundae.
Joy of Tea on the promenade.
This is one of few places you can score a can of Coke.
An excellent choice for you bourbon and chocolate lovers remains on the menu.
Lotus Blossom is one of my least favorite quick services on property.
On the plus side, this is the home of the cheapest fountain beverages on Disney property and the Chicken with Hong Kong Style Vegetable Curry over Rice is a ton of food.
In Norway, the waterfall outside Maelstrom was working for the first time I’ve seen it in months
Worms in dirt. Tres Norwegian.
As Norwegian as Carlsberg anyway.
Finishing up with Mexico where we have plenty of margarita opportunities.
This is the easiest, but also the worst. If you’re going to drop $15 on a margarita, you’re better served heading inside to La Cava. The frozen margaritas are pretty good though. With the lacking options in Norway, you might want to double fist here in Mexico.
Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports9/cantina.jpg. La Cantina – another quick service I would prefer to skip.
More info on Mexico, including the rest of the menus and reviews of San Angel and La Hacienda here: http://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/world-showcase-update-%E2%80%93-mexico-la-hacienda-de-san-angel-review-san-angel-inn-review-margaritas/.
I trust you to spot the last Joffrey’s location.
And you recognize the menu.
Those donuts always look pretty good.
We’ll take a look inside Fountain View next.