We’ll take a trip out to Disney Springs to catch up on construction progress and grab lunch at the Morimoto Asia bar.
The pedestrian bridge that connects the Hotel Boulevard area with Disney Springs recently opened.
This scientifically drawn red line indicates where the bridge is in the grand scheme of things. Those walking over from area resorts will appreciate no longer having to risk their lives crossing the street – Orlando is famous for being the “most dangerous place in America for pedestrians.”
An elevator is available for those with strollers etc.
The bridge. I think comments like these are why they pay me the big bucks.
The walk over offers a scenic view of the construction.
Looking back at Hotel Plaza Boulevard. It’s about three minutes from the Hilton’s doors to the bridge.
Construction on the second parking garage. On this particular Saturday, the entire Orange parking garage was full before 5pm.
You’d have to think we’re at least six months away on this thing.
The old Pleasure Island bus turnaround closed years ago, leaving just this small West Side turnaround open. There’s just five shelters with stops on both sides.
The massive new installation occupies most of the space behind Planet Hollywood all the way down to The Landing and looks to have at least 20 shelters.
As has been the case since construction began, most of the work is in the middle of Disney Springs, away from the Marketplace.
I would guess this splash pad is where it all got started.
I envision Joe Rohde on his hands and knees with a magnifying glass inspecting the water for inspiration.
Otherwise, the bridge sets you down right next to Earl of Sandwich and Once Upon A Toy.
It was just after 1:30pm on Saturday January 30th and I had in mind to head to The BOaTHOuSE for dinner, so I wasn’t looking for anything super heavy.
Earl of Sandwich seemed to fit the bill with their $6-$7 sandwiches, which are a relative bargain compared to other options.
But as usual, the place was packed to the gills and I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with it. My usual recommendation is to go to nearby Wolfgang Puck Express instead:
The sandwiches there are just about exactly twice as expensive, but they come with a generous side and are considerably larger.
This is the Turkey Club, for example, which is probably twice as much food as Earl for twice as much money. And I would argue that the overall experience makes Wolfgang worth the added expense – you place your order after waiting a short time and then your food is brought to you while you relax inside or out.
I’ll have a separate merchandise post or three here shortly, but suffice to say that there is a lot of stuff.
So much stuff.
I like these cupcake and candy apple magnets.
Moving through this part of Disney Springs, just about everything looks the same as it did a couple of years ago.
The World of Disney addition should be complete.
You may remember that it was expanded in back.
The good news is that there’s a whole lot more open space in the store.
The store used to be so jam packed full of stuff that it was sometimes difficult to move from room to room.
It’s probably not bad news to you, but the store is also completely rearranged. It took me about four years to be able to tell you where anything was in here and now everything is somewhere else.
Checkout has also been consolidated into just a couple of locations rather than having little desks here and there all over the place. It reminded me a lot of Fry’s Electronics – I’m not sure if that reference is too obscure. But it should mean a faster, easier time checking out.
Star Wars everything has taken over, as you might expect. The Force Awakens is set to surpass two billion dollars worldwide, which puts it just 800 million behind Avatar.
Speaking of the obscure, Orange Bird must have some kind of serious following considering the amount of merchandise that comes out and how big of a deal Disney seems to make with every new item.
They also make a huge deal out of these Springs Bottling Co. bottles for some reason.
Each one will set you back $11.95 I can’t imagine they’re selling.
It’s fun to pop into Arribas Brothers next door to see what’s available on the crystal front.
This bronze statue of Elsa will run you a cool $3500. I guess you’d only have to not end your vacation four days early on 3.5 consecutive vacations to afford it. That doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, I might start using that to rationalize a lot more purchases. “Think about how much money we saved by going to Disney World and staying for the full week.” It’s free money, folks.
A surprising amount of construction continues behind the Lego store and World of Disney.
It’s always dangerous standing near construction walls.
These walls continue down towards T-Rex.
You can get a little better idea about how massive the Town Square addition is at it pops up over the top of the T-Rex background to the left.
It will be interesting to see how clean Disney can keep their crystal blue water.
A variety of kiosks also seem to be going in here.
These walls extend out past Raglan Road and Morimoto Asia.
The stores along here will soon be dwarfed by the massive amount of retail waiting to open.
I’ll occasionally see somebody say that they’re planning to visit Disney Springs to “get away from the crowds,” but the opposite is really true. Disney Springs can be incredibly congested, particularly in the evening and on weekends. This is before 2pm on Saturday January 30th. You ideally want to arrive earlier in the day with non-holiday weekdays early in the week being best. If this was a Tuesday at 11am there would be very few other people around. So instead of doing a Park first and then hitting Disney Springs after, you might instead consider doing the reverse.
I had been wanting to try Morimoto Asia’s Singapore Laksa Noodle dish since the restaurant opened, but always managed to find something else to order. The website has published two formal reviews on the restaurant – the most recent being this lunch post that includes a lot of pictures around the restaurant, in addition to reviewing the $26 Orange Chicken Lunch Set and Beef Lo Mein, among other items. I have a dinner review as well, which includes a better look at drinks and some other entrees and sushi.
This time around, the plan was to pop into the bar area for a casual meal. There’s a wide variety of seating options here – you can belly up to the bar itself or sit at one of the various low- or high-top tables.
As a reminder, here’s what the lunch menu looks like:
Another reason why I recommend visiting Disney Springs during the day is that a lot of the restaurants serve a less expensive lunch menu. My Singapore Laksa Noodle is going to be just $12, but would be $17 for dinner. Something like the Shumai, which we also recently saw at Skipper Canteen, goes up to $10 from $8 for dinner. It’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but if you can get the same thing for less money then you might as well.
I’m not historically as high on Morimoto as some – the restaurant seems to get raving reviews from most of the blogosphere, many of whom attended free promotional blowouts shortly after the restaurant opened and before they raised prices on nearly every item on the menu.
One of the problems I had the first time around was that at the table we were seated at, the busy service station was right in front of us. And while staff is probably not paying much attention, eavesdropping on conversations is sort of inevitable as a dozen or more people looked down at us in between shining glassware.
I was happy to see that they had put up some glass shelving at each service station, which should promote a little more privacy for those sitting nearby. Also a shout out to this waving guy. His poor wife has the most “I was sick of your !@#& three days ago” look on her face that I think I’ve ever seen.
One thing about the bar itself is that the chairs are extremely close together. I was almost sitting right on top of the gentleman next to me who smartly left shortly after I sat down.
This time around I finally did it (celebrate good times come on) and ordered the $12 Singapore Laksa Noodle – creamy coconut and spicy curry, rice noodle, chicken meatballs, soy marinated egg.
The bartender asked if I wanted the kitchen to “spice it up” and I obliged. And it really did have a serious kick to it, which is rare for on-property restaurants that all seem to think the definition of “spicy” is having a pepper somewhere in proximity to the food they’re serving. The heat contrasted nicely with the creamy curry and while you can’t see them, there’s a ton of rice noodles underneath the toppings. Everything was so flavorful and filling that I’d put it on a list of the top ten lunch entrees under $15 on property. And it would be near the top of that list, though BOAtHOuSe’s now-$14 Filet Sliders give it a run for its money across the street.
I paired it with a $14 Hibiscus Sazerac – templeton rye, hibiscus, absinthe served with lemon peel. Virtually all alcohol, the drink was strong and very nicely put together – somehow with the absinthe and hibiscus they managed to take away almost all of the twang from the rye and replace it with a smooth flavor. It was at least $4 too expensive, but you do get a serious drink for your money. Most Disney cocktails these days are nonsense.
I really enjoyed my meal at Morimoto. There is a tremendous amount of value in the noodle bowl with the quality well outpacing the price. And I like that all of the restaurants that have recently opened have expansive bar areas. You can very easily pop into Morimoto, BOAThOUSE, and Jake Lundley’s for a drink and a bite without reservations or any more effort than it takes to walk two minutes from one to the next.
So I do still recommend Morimoto, partly on the newness of it. I don’t think it will be a top five choice once everything is here, but it’s a top five choice at the moment, particularly for lunch.
In Part 2 we’ll take a look at construction on the other half of Disney Springs, grab a quick dinner at boathouse, and take an out-of-order look at everything I forgot in this update.