We’ll hop on the bus from the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and take the bus over to a very busy Disney Springs just in front of the Christmas crowds. At least no shots will be ringing out. These bus time signs started popping up a couple of years ago at the main resort bus stops and Disney has teased the times being pushed to the My Disney Experience app for some time now. They’re very accurate and make a lot of waits “feel” shorter. A 12-minute wait is a lot easier to stomach if you know it’s going to be 12 minutes. It also helps you know if you have time to run back to the food court to fill up on coffee or take a youngster who “didn’t need to go to the bathroom” to the restroom for a quick trip before departure. The monorail resorts also list if the monorails are operating and those resorts with watercraft also have a green check mark next to them if they’re operating.
A relatively major part of the Disney Springs project is a new expanded bus turnaround in a centralized location near what will be The Landing. Getting to Disney Springs remains an arduous trip from most resorts. My trek out from the Grand Floridian took about 30 minutes as the buses avoid the main roadways. The rides on the BoardWalk/Swan/Dolphin and Animal Kingdom Lodge routes are particularly long.
For now, the Marketplace is it and you’ll have to trudge back and forth to catch your bus. Those driving have the advantage of parking in the Orange Garage on the West Side, which is particularly convenient if you’re coming in from I-4 via the direct on-ramp.
You can’t go anywhere on property without being slapped in the face with something Star Wars related, whether it’s these propaganda posters for the Resistance or BB-8 branded oranges.
Even if you’re not in the market for one of these $3,900 pieces of paper art, it’s still fun to check out the various pieces in any of the Art of Disney stores you might come across. The Disney Springs location is probably the best, though the Art of Disney store at Epcot offers some interesting pieces as does Main Street Cinema at Magic Kingdom.
Some holiday related sketches.
The second and more functional pedestrian bridge has opened. This links the Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels, restaurants, etc. to the Marketplace side of Disney Springs. You may remember the Bridge to Nowhere closer to the Orange Parking Garage.
Disney elevated its decoration game at the Springs this year, decking out appropriate buildings like this margarita bar.
A popular Santa meet and greet across from the Marketplace Co-Op area. Now defunct.
It’s nice that you don’t have to wait in line. Lisa and I went out for brunch this past Sunday at Orlando’s Millenia Mall and the wait was quoted as six hours ten minutes. They used a similar pager system. You’d have to drink your Orange Julius really, really slowly.
Local school choirs were singing Christmas carols.
Disney Springs construction continues with no end in sight, here with a sprawling building behind the current Lego store. We should see some indoor mall elements coming in, which will probably be welcome considering how hot and humid Florida is much of the year. Tomorrow’s high is 85 degrees with a “RealFeel” of 93. At the end of December. There’s something decidedly not-Christmas-y about that, no matter how tall the gingerbread house is at the Grand.
There otherwise isn’t a lot of construction visible to guests at the moment. The Marketplace section has been free of walls for much of the last couple of years. You may remember obstacles like the Pleasure Island Bypass.
Trees and such block much of the construction here, though it’s hard to cover up the cranes. Theming around here is already looking really nice. This is going to be a much classier joint once it’s all finished in…
Not much to see behind the walls next to T-Rex. Expanded walkways and a lot of water.
Some of the walls in front of Raglan Road and Cookes of Dublin have been moved back.
Speaking of Cookes, I almost grabbed lunch there, but deemed a slight menu change at June Lang’s to be more bloggable. One of these days that Beef and Lamb Pie will be mine.
Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself. My original plan was to have a late lunch at Morimoto Street Food, the quick service outlet that had just opened on the day of my visit, December 18th.
I saw the menu earlier that day, but assumed it couldn’t be everything that they were offering – certainly there would be an option to add beef, chicken, or tofu to the lo mein for a nice hearty, casual meal. But no, this is it. And not only is this it, but everything is pre-made and served in plastic containers. That is expected to change – I’m guessing Patina Group thought it would be a good idea to open in front of the crushing holiday crowds, but it is hard to imagine anybody spending much money here. In the picture above this one, you’ll notice that Street Food is currently located in a completely un-obvious location at a dead end. If you were in the mood to eat Morimoto, it would make 300% more sense to grab a table at the bar and enjoy a much more expanded menu. The Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale is particularly special though – I’ve never seen it on tap and it comes direct from Numazu, Japan. The Morimoto Rogue Soba is pretty good though not impossible to find. Crooked Can is out of Winter Garden – I’m not sure which specific variety they’re offering. I’d stick with the Baird while it’s available.
Anyway, Street Food is expected to offer an expanded menu come January. Until then, everything is grab-and-go.
You otherwise order from this window here. It was super awkward approaching it as I’m positive the only people they saw all day were bloggers.
Then there’s a lot of outdoor seating. Unless there are some values or unique items offered, it seems like it would make more sense to go inside the restaurant. In case you missed them, I have a Morimoto Dinner review here and a followup lunch review here, which includes more pictures of the interior. I’m otherwise not particularly crazy about Morimoto, particularly after the price hike. The interior still “feels” like a warehouse and nothing on the menu seems particularly innovative, even if the kitchen does proficiently execute what is available.
Behind the walls across from Morimoto, you have a long bridge over to a completely new area of Disney Springs.
This location seems ripe for the Art Smith “farm-to-fork” concept expected to open in “summer 2016.” You can get a better idea about how much water we’re talking about coming through here with the bridge over in the distance.
Jackson Lennox’s Hangar Bar gets into a bit of the holiday spirit.
There’s a wreath over there.
And a tree over the entrance. Still no word on the whereabouts of the snake. And still no more souvenir glasses.
Here are the changes to the menu, with the original prices/items coming first:
- Good Dates: $8.99 -> $9
- Rolling Boulder Sliders: $9.99 – $11.50
- Snack of Ra: $11.99 -> $12
- Air Pirate’s Pretzels: $8.99 -> $10.50
- Tanis Tacos: $9.49 -> $10
- Dr. Elsa’s She-Deviled Eggs ($7.99) are now Dr. Elsa’s Shrimp BLT Flatbread ($16)
- Brody’s Brats: $8.49 -> $8.50
- Lao Che’s Revenge: $12.99 -> $14
- Squid! Why’d It Have To Be Squid? is now your standard Fried Calamari ($12.50) instead of the Calamari Flatbread ($14)
This time around I went with the new menu item, the $16 Shrimp BLT Flatbread with Chermoula-spiced Shrimp, Nueske’s Bacon, Arugula, Roasted Tomatoes, and Basil Pesto.
One thing they don’t tell you is it’s served cold, which is kind of off-putting if you’re not expecting it. Mine was ice cold. Another problem when your toppings are basically three large loose pieces on each slice with nothing holding them down is that you don’t really ever get everything in one bite. It’s either a shrimp bite. Or a bacon bite. Or a tomato bite. Those issues aside, the flavors worked well together – the shrimp had a Mediterranean tang with some garlic, cilantro, and coriander. The bacon adds some saltiness and the roasted tomatoes complement the basil pesto underneath well. Overall, a cold flatbread isn’t really what I had in mind, but then maybe a hot shrimp flatbread isn’t a thing and I’m dumb. I think it would otherwise be best shared – it was an awful lot of food that all tasted the same – not a whole lot of depth here. I’d recommend it for sharing or if you’re in the mood for a cold shrimp flatbread, but it’s not something I otherwise have interest in returning to, even if bloggability was thrown out the window (and it will never be).
I’ve never had much luck here on the cocktail front – everything I’ve ordered has been syrupy and light on liquor. My $9.25 Wrong Island! – Siesta Key Silver Rum, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Tamiami Gin, Tippler’s Orange Liqueur, and Sweet-and-Sour with a splash of Coca-Cola was no different. On the plus side, drinks are on the inexpensive side for the most part. Considering they charge $21 for 1.5 ounces of whiskey poured over an ice cube, you can’t really expect anything from the drinks that cost less than half as much. I’d reiterate my recommendation to go with a beer.
A flight is available – This is the Paulaner (recommended), Orlando I-4 IPA (decent and local), and Kingfisher (I wouldn’t).
The bar wasn’t busy at 5pm on Friday December 18th. You could have easily waltzed in and found a table. They don’t do text messages anymore, so you show up and find a table. If there isn’t one available inside, and there often isn’t after 7pm, I’d head elsewhere. The drinks and food are better next door at The BOATHOUSE and you can sit outside and enjoy the same ambiance.
If you’re looking to spend $8 on a draft beer, Morimoto Street Food is your best option at the moment. You can walk it on over here and enjoy the same sunset – time permitting.
All of these places are within a minute walk of each other, so it’s easy to grab a drink and a bite in one spot before moving on to the next.
The Ganachery opened in the retail space across from Paradiso 37 a couple of weeks ago now. The store is teeny tiny, resulting in a line outside when it’s busy.
Only about ten people fit in the store at a time, which might make you feel like you’ve traveled to Harry Potter World where you can barely turn around without being in someone’s way.
Your visit begins with a host offering a tour of the facilities, or I guess more accurately, talks to you while you look through the window. This is Disney’s first foray into the world of the chocolatier. Elsewhere, pastry chefs take care of the chocolate.
16 ganache(s) are available for purchase. One piece will set you back $3. Six = $15; Nine = $21; Twelve = $27. So like most things, the more you buy, “the more you save.”
There are theoretically sixteen options – they were out of Vanilla and Caramel Fleur de Sel when I visited. There are also boxes already put together that you can purchase, but I assume most people will want to make specific selections from the case. Each ganache is made here in-house where it then sits for 24 hours and then moves to the case, so most chocolates have only known this precious world for about two days before they’re headed for your mouth.
Chocolate bars are available for $8 each and come in at three ounces a pop. They’re kind of themed so you get Mickey Mouse Milk Chocolate, Minnie Mouse Milk Chocolate with Dried Strawberries, Pluto Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter and Peanuts, Goofy Dark Chocolate with Popping Candy, Donald Duck White Chocolate with Blueberries and Habanero Chili, Disneyland Milk Chocolate with with Zante Currant Raisins and Almonds, Disneyland Paris Dark Chocolate with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling, and Aulani White Chocolate with Coconut and Pineapple. So you’ve got some options.
There’s also some vials of crispy chocolate pearls, sort of visible on the middle left, that come in at $5 each.
Being holiday time, I came home with two of these chocolate pops for my brother and his fiance. I believe they are milk chocolate with raspberry, along with a dozen ganache for Mother.
They do a nice job packaging everything up, though it may have been odd that they stuck my chocolate pops underneath the heavier box.
A camera phone shot of $27 worth. Like most things Disney, these things aren’t cheap – I’m guessing they come in around $100/pound by weight. But they are also exquisite. I have no idea if they’re worth it. They certainly made a great gift. If your neighbor is taking care of watering your plants and hates Disney and you want to bring them back something that won’t make them decline to take care of things next time, then you might want to take a look at something like this. Ganache doesn’t/don’t come any fresher.
With that said, the ordering process is kind of chaotic. Two cast members take care of filling boxes. Since I was ordering a box of 12 and there were 14 total selections, I tried to make it easier by telling them the two flavors that I didn’t want. But I had to repeat myself four or five times and I’m still not sure what I came away with. The store is also extremely small and the various chocolate flavors are spread out over various displays. I doubt most people are aware that so many different flavors of chocolate bar exist.
But if you’re looking for a chocolate treat, the quality here is great. Check it out.
That’s about as far as this update takes us as the crowds and darkness made it difficult to photograph much else, coupled by various crowd control measures that made it more difficult to move about freely.
The good news is that Disney Springs gets closer to completion every day and construction should have little impact on your overall experience. There’s already more to see and do than ever and several restaurants here are among the best you’ll find at Walt Disney World. With most people planning to spend about six hours here, it’s going to be difficult for most people to see more than just a piece of everything it has to offer once it finally opens.