We’ll head out to Epcot where little is going on in front of its transformation into the home of the Food and Wine Festival next month. Fast forward exactly four weeks and a topiary scene will greet us.
Here at 6:10pm on Wednesday August 13th, there’s virtually no line for Spaceship Earth. Looking at posted wait times over the last two weeks, it’s the same story:
First, you’ll notice that non-recommended days marked in red have longer average and peak waits than the recommended days around them. Compared to the same two weeks last year, average waits are six minutes longer and peak waits are, on average, over twice as long under FastPass+. Rewind a year and 30 to 50 minute afternoon waits were unheard of, but they are a daily occurrence here under FP+. Most guests will want to visit after 6pm or with FP+ sometime in the afternoon.
As covered in more detail about two months ago, Future World has a new color scheme. Green over here.
Brown over there.
Short waits at 6:15pm helped by an afternoon storm clearing things out.
Walt Disney Company’s historic success continues as the stock hits new all-time highs seemingly daily with price targets now raised over $100. The stock currently trades north of $89, compared to less than $26 five years ago. How much of that success is owed to MyMagic+ and the walls and walls of MagicBands that have popped up inside nearly every store on property is hard to quantify.
Even for the big players on Wall Street, who, like us, have no idea how much MyMagic+ cost or how it’s really affecting guest satisfaction (spending).
Halloween merchandise is out in force with the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party scheduled in just over two weeks.
Last year’s shirt is nearly identical.
These two may be exactly the same:
We’ll take a closer look in a separate merchandise update.
Although these tongs might be worth noting now.
Walls remain around the area outside Innoventions West where there was reportedly a problem with the pipes.
The newish mesh wall looks better.
Not much else to see.
More walls up along the walk into World Showcase, but that’s about it.
La Cantina removed the short-lived “Traditional Mexican Sandwiches” from the menu:
A more robust menu update will come at the end of the month.
These sandwiches were more authentic than you might imagine, but were an odd choice for a Mexican quick service outlet that doesn’t even offer burritos.
Frozen coming to Maelstrom looks like it’s 98.5% likely to happen at this point with the attraction likely to go down at the end of September. On the Hollywood Studios front, American Idol Experience is closing at the end of the month with the expectation that the Frozen Singalong will replace it by the end of the year.
Shoehorning Frozen into Maelstrom seems short-sighted. Maelstrom is a tired, relatively low-capacity ride system that sees 25 to 40 minute waits despite being over 25 years old. Even if Disney marketing is successful in bringing in guests because they can “ride Frozen,” it’s hard to imagine a scenario where a few screens and effects would satisfy guests that have made a special trip over or otherwise have expectations of any caliber.
Other major pavilion changes seem unlikely at this point.
Over in Mexico, this color projection is a few months old.
No line for your $14.50 mixed-yesterday margarita at La Cava.
A bottle for the room might be a more prudent investment. Most of the Pavilions will sell you a bottle available for pickup at the exit. Prices are generally reasonable. Norway has Vikingfjord vodka, Canada offers Crown Royal, Italy sells Banfi grappa, etc.
Dave and I recommend Mexico’s San Angel Inn in “The easy Guide” for the unique ambiance and less expensive lunch menu. It also offers access to La Cava’s margarita and tequila menu without the wait or fuss of the cramped seating area. There are not a lot of restaurants where you sit at the base of a temple with a volcano erupting off in the distance.
The restaurant is difficult to review because it’s so dark. On out last visit, I ordered the Tacos de Carne – Grilled New York strip on flour tortillas, topped with chipotle pepper sauce, scallions and avocado – served with rice and beans – $21.00. Three tacos arrive each filled to the brim with grilled steak and topped with a dollop of freshly made guac. Once Food and Wine arrives next month, the Pavilion will be selling far dinkier steak tacos for $5.50 a pop. In comparison, San Angel is a significantly better value.
Alongside rice and beans.
Dave ordered the Huarache de Res – Thin sliced New York strip, served over a corn and bean flat bread, topped with arugula, avocado, roasted chipotle sauce and queso fresco – $18.00. This is sort of a Mexican pizza though the flat bread is far crispier than your usual pizza. It was more like Mexican food on top of a cracker. Still filling and far more interesting than what they serve outside La Cantina for about $6 more.
It’s a lot better than it looks.
Another bonus of lunch – it’s far less crowded. One big detraction is how close the tables are to each other, particularly when it’s busy. You might as well be seated at the same table as your neighbors.
Request a waterside table at check-in to watch the boats float by while you dine.
Back to August 13th at 7:15pm. Feels crowded.
The Jeweled Dragon Acrobats remain popular in China.
Nine Dragons is China’s table service restaurant and one that comes with one of the worst reputations on property. Our last visit went well and I was interested to see if it was a fluke or my expectations were so low that anything short of damp sandpaper would have impressed me.
The restaurant is attractive, but unlike San Angel, I don’t think the atmosphere is unique enough to compel a reservation.
The menu is the same as it was last year with just a few exceptions. The General Tso’s Chicken Dumplings (WHICH I WAS GOING TO ORDER!!!) are no longer available as an appetizer. Neither is the Walnut Shrimp Toast. The Vegetable Spring Rolls replace them.
Tsingtao Pure Draft is no longer available on the beer menu.
A separate unadvertised dinner set is available at the table. Considering the dim sum consists of “literally” one pot sticker and one small spring roll, I’m not sure it’s a compelling value compared to what else is available.
The instructions start at step 8.
I started with the Chicken Consomme with Chicken Dumplings – $3.98 after enjoying the Hot and Sour Soup last time. The soup is a good value at four bucks and comes with two dumplings that are the same as the potstickers we’ll see shortly. The Hot and Sour is far more interesting and would be my choice, but wonton soup is always popular with the kids and less adventuresome.
Four potstickers with cilantro-soy dipping sauce arrive for $6.98. They are Costco-freezer-quality. Actually, I think I prefer the Ling Lings that come in the yellow bag. They are certainly a “safe choice,” but bland and forgettable for the rest of us. Try the soup.
Lisa ordered the Sweet and Sour Pork with Lightly Spiced Spinach Noodles – $16.98. It’s a heaping pile of deep fried pork topped with the usual thick, sweet red sauce and a handful of pineapple on the side.
The pork lacked that satisfying crispy crunch that I look for in deep fried Chinese food, likely due to someone spooning the sauce on top far before anyone actually ordered the dish. It’s more food than any one person can probably eat, even those among us that have put on 50 pounds reviewing Disney quick service food over the last three years. You might want to split this and the fried rice.
Spinach noodles seem like an odd accompaniment for the pork. A spoonful of fried rice or lo mein noodles would have been more welcome. Otherwise, the noodles were overcooked and didn’t taste like much other than garlic.
As part of the $23.88 Dinner Set, I ordered the Canton Pepper Beef – Stir Fried Beef with Onions and Bell Peppers in a classic Savory Sauce.
Basically Mongolian Beef, I would have again enjoyed more spice. The steak was typically low quality, chewy stir-fried beef similar to what you’d receive at your local dive.
While decidedly average and “over-priced” for what you get, Nine Dragons is the least expensive table service restaurant at Epcot by average entree price. And considering that, I think it’s fine. It would not be my choice for a single meal at Epcot. There is nothing particularly special about the menu or the atmosphere, but I also would not gloss over it based on poor reviews from years ago.
After enjoying the Strawberry-Red Bean Ice Cream last time, we went with the Caramel-Ginger Ice Cream this time.
Lisa commented that it tasted like her yoga studio smells and while I have never set foot in a yoga studio, the flavor did seem to resemble an air-freshener. The flavor wasn’t as bad as that might sound, but it was extremely ginger-y. We love the strawberry though.
Overall, two appetizers, two entrees, and dessert cost $15 less than a single steak at Le Cellier and we left satisfied with mediocre food and a lower bill than usual. Last time’s Honey-Sesame Chicken and Noodles Sampler were better.
HDR’d out for your enjoyment.
Electric car charging stations are being installed around property.
There are exactly two here near Epcot’s entrance.
That’s about it for Epcot.