We spent a considerable amount of time considering morning touring about two weeks ago in this post, in addition to a review of a couple new items at Flame Tree and a second visit to Harambe Market for the Karubi-spiced Ribs, Boerewors Sausage, and Africa Milk Tart, among other things. Today, we’ll return to try a few snacks that had to be skipped last time and look at a few more menus.
The LA Times this week seemingly confirmed what we’ve all known for a while is coming to Pandora – namely a Soarin’-esque simulator as the marquee attraction, in addition to a boat ride not dissimilar in scope from Pirates of the Caribbean.
I’m still not sure how to adequately capture how big it all is. But Lisa saw it for the first time in a long time and commented, “Wow, that’s big.” Which confirms it.
Cranes in the distance.
Crossing the bridge from The Oasis into Discovery Island sounds more like the deforestation scene in Kali River Rapids than a tranquil entrance into Walt Disney World’s prettiest theme park.
It’s a lot of power tools on top of the Disney Outfitters expansion.
From the other side.
Flame Tree still lacks signage of any kind and may for some time as work continues, despite the location reopening about two weeks ago.
One thing I’m not sure I focused on enough is Discovery Island’s transformation from a very bright, colorful palette to…I’m not sure what I would call it. Brown, I guess.
When Isle of Java opened next door last year, it didn’t really fit into the color scheme of the rest of Discovery Island. But I think people shrugged that off with its proximity to DinoLand USA. Now Isle of Java blends in nicely with Flame Tree’s new color scheme.
In the morning touring post, I highlighted the change in color scheme at this kiosk, which was at one time as colorful as any other Discovery Island kiosk.
And now the same kiosk looks like this.
Other kiosks, like Beastly Kiosk pictured above, still retain color. But for how long?
Isle of Java otherwise serves the same Tree of Life cupcake as other locations:
It replaces the Cotton Top Tamarin cupcake. This location originally sold Mickey Pretzels and Jalapeno Pretzels, but doesn’t anymore, instead acquiescing duties to nearby Beastly Kiosk.
Speaking of Beastly Kiosk, as you may remember it now serves two pasta dishes as snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan. This is across from the Adventurers Outpost Mickey and Minnie Meet and Greet, which is near the bridge to Asia from Discovery Island.
I laughed at the idea of ordering Baked Lobster Macaroni and Cheese in the July heat, but here we are for the sake of bloggability.
Partially eaten for your pleasure. Anyone familiar with the Food and Wine Festival should recognize the serving size and presentation.
It’s identical to something like the Lobster and Fisherman’s Pie from the Ireland booth. As surprised as I am to type this, I think the lobster mac is a good value out of pocket, even at six dollars. It’s creamy, rich, and cheesy with an appropriate amount of real lobster meat. I can’t imagine ordering six dollars worth of lobster mac at a restaurant and getting much more than this. And while the dishes are made in advance and kept hot at the kiosk, the quality on ours was excellent – served piping hot like it had just come out of the oven.
You may remember that Pizzafari offers this Baked Pasta Bolognese for $11.99. It’s previously frozen with gummy pasta and very little meat. I’d gladly take two $6 Lobster Macs and come out far more satisfied. And it’s a no-brainer on the Dining Plan – certainly one of the best values you’re going to find.
Across the way is Gardens Kiosk, the brown kiosk previously pictured:
This is an all-new menu. You may remember that the Chilled Green Tea and Cucumber-Mint Pomegranate Lemonade are refreshing, while the cast member wouldn’t even sell us a Raspberry Lemonade before demanding we try a sample, which we quickly discarded after taking a small sip.
The $5.49 Farmers Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese, and Candied Pecans is on the left with the $5.49 Trek Power Salad with Quinoa, Beets, Edamame, and Citrus on the right. Both are snacks on the Disney Dining Plan, which is a departure from how the Dining Plan used to operate.
The Farmers Salad arrived just about as described, with the exception of a couple of thick slices of cucumber underneath. The goat cheese created kind of a thick creaminess to the salad with the berries adding a fruity burst of flavor along with the sweet, crunchy candied pecans. It was tossed in some kind of a vinaigrette and there was far too much of it. This picture of the aftermath is kind of gross so you’ll have to click it if you want to see, but the moisture from the cucumber, coupled with the thinness of the dressing, created kind of a slimy overall texture. So while the main flavors were on point, I think I’d keep the cucumber off and go a little easier on the dressing. It might even make sense to serve the dressing in a cup on the side. Overall, it was a large portion – probably four times what you’d get at the Food and Wine Festival for about $2 more. I think I’d recommend it because everything was fresh and flavorful, but ask about the dressing.
The Trek Salad is a vibrant mixture of several fresh, colorful ingredients. Looking down at it in the carton, I expected the yellow slices to be papaya or a citrus fruit of some kind, but that’s actually golden beet. There’s also a mixture of edamame, red pepper, cranberries, quinoa, and lettuce. While each of the ingredients was fresh, they combined into something that was almost completely devoid of flavor. It was kind of strange – the salad just tasted very subtly of beets. It’s probably healthy, but I really expected it to pack more of a punch. I’m not sure where the citrus comes into play unless there’s something in the dressing, which if there was one, was also tasteless.
I figured the salads would be largely pre-made, but it took the cast member a couple of minutes to prepare them inside the kiosk. Overall, the portion size was solid for the money, at least compared to what you can expect from Disney snacks. But the flavors in the Trek Power Salad in particular weren’t there.
You may remember that Trilo-Bites is now offering a Buffalo Chicken Waffle Slider and Waffle Sundae in yet another menu update:
And yet the menu changed again just this week with the addition of two new beer selections.
The cast member confirmed whether the addition of the blue cheese sauce was okay when I ordered. I confirmed that it was, although it looks kind of unfortunate in the picture. The waffles are otherwise freshly pressed and have a nice sweet, malty quality to them. The buffalo sauce has a bit of a kick to it, which is tempered by the creamy blue cheese dressing and the crunch of the arugula. Overall, we both thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s a terrific use of a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
Out of pocket, there’s probably less value. Two of these would add up to $11, which would cover the majority of full quick service meals around the Park. And I don’t think two of these put together would be as filling or as much food as a “real” entree. But it is a nice snack that’s just $1 to $1.50 overpriced. That may or may not stop you from giving it a try.
We first saw Funky Buddha Florida Hefeweizen at the Flower and Garden Festival:
It’s surprisingly good considering it’s Floridian in origin. The flavors you would expect to be there are present – banana, clove, citrus, and yeast, all nicely balanced with a clean aftertaste. Very good.
Or as part of the flight at Epcot. $7.75 is more than I like to pay for a beer, but this is one of the better ones available and something you probably aren’t going to find far outside of the state.
Cigar City’s Maduro Brown Ale is somewhat common around property, available in nearly two dozen locations from Citricos to Whispering Canyon Cafe. It’s very good for the style, but I’m not sure the Florida summer is the best climate for a beer like this.
Elsewhere on the beer front, Dino-Bite Snacks in DinoLand added two new draft beers about a week ago:
Sea Dog Sunfish is an interesting one that works best when it’s disgustingly hot out, like it is in Florida basically all the time. There’s a lot of citrus, predominantly grapefruit and peach, balanced decently enough with the wheat. It’s a sweet beer not unlike a Schofferhofer, smooth and light in the mouth. I’m not usually a fruity beer guy, but it does work well in the heat. Very refreshing, compared to something like the Maduro, which arguably isn’t.
Key West Sunset Ale is a strange one. It gets points for being rare outside of Florida, but the thin mouth feel and metallic aftertaste are big turn offs. It does taste better in the heat though.
Elsewhere in beer news, the cart across from the exit/store to Expedition Everest still offers the Yeti Stout, for a whopping $9.75.
Great Divide’s Yeti is actually an imperial stout that comes in at 9.5% ABV, which is just under twice as much alcohol as the Key West Sunset (4.8%) and more than twice as much as the Sea Dog Sunfish (4.6%). I’m not usually a stout person, but this is one of the best out there, with a subtle sweetness from the dark chocolate malts and a hint of espresso, along with light carbonation and an overall creamy texture. While I’m not sure I’d reach for a Maduro in the heat, I think the Yeti works. And while it’s expensive, it also has the lowest markup as a percentage of any of the beers here. A 12 ounce bottle would run you about $4 at the store, compared to $1.50 on the others.
Back to DinoLand at 1:35pm on Friday the 10th. Here in the middle of the summer, I was surprised how short posted waits were. DINOSAUR was posted at 20 minutes despite the line spilling out into the extended queue. You’d expect a 40-minute posted wait here.
10 minutes posted at Primeval Whirl.
20 at Everest. You’d expect 35 to 45. Looking over posted waits over the course of the day:
Everest does hit 40 minutes for a moment and DINOSAUR hits as many as 50, but this is closer to what you’d expect in September or late January than July.
Subtract two days to the non-recommended Wednesday, with the morning Extra Magic Hour in the morning and an extra hour in the evening, and you see significantly higher wait times.
Split the difference and you get Thursday the 9th, with a little over an hour of closures in the afternoon for lightning. Waits are significantly lower than the non-recommended Wednesday.
To put things even more out of order, here’s Tuesday of the same week.
The takeaways here are the same that we’ve been discussing for years. You see how the morning is more forgiving than the other Parks. Everest is nearly a walk-on for the first 45 minutes of operation. Safaris sees a jump a little earlier, but actual waits are still under 15 minutes through 10am most days, even here in the summer. Peak waits are longer than we want to wait for most rides in the afternoon, which is why we plan to use FastPass+ while working in the shows and nature walks from 11am-5pm.
In case you were wondering what things looked like on July 4th this year, the above chart should give you a good idea. Primeval Whirl and Kilimanjaro Safaris only hit 20 minutes at one interval and the average for Everest is lower than any other day that week. Note that the weather on Independence Day this year was bad – lots of rain and lightning, though not enough to close rides during Animal Kigndom’s regular operating hours.
Back to the Everest area, where construction continues on what is expected to be a food and beverage location. Hopefully these pathways are being widened in front of Rivers of Light.
They don’t pay me if I don’t post this picture.
Starbucks increased prices nationwide last week, including updated prices here at the Disney World Starbucks. The Valencia Orange Refresher is out in favor of Starberry Acai. I think I’ve been told 50 times how to pronounce acai, but still don’t remember. “The strawberry Refresher, please.”
Picture of the current cupcake lineup.
I think I’d stick to Kusafiri or another outlet though, as the cupcake containers tend to be too small to house the Tree of Life cupcake in particular. At least there’s two hard boiled eggs as a substitute.
Otherwise, walls still line the area around Island Mercantile.
And on the other side of Disney Outfitters.
Not much has changed since last time, but you can see more vertical construction in front of Everest.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, seating is on the Flame Tree side.
Similar work on the other side of Flame Tree’s seating section.
That’s about it. Still brainstorming something to talk about at Epcot.