We’ll head out to Epcot on the afternoon of January 25, 2015 with an occasional rewind all the way back to January 10. With the Flower and Garden Festival starting on March 4th and continuing through May 17th, there are precious few opportunities to enjoy Epcot’s simpler flower beds. Fast forward about five weeks and we’ll have another fake topiary scene welcoming us.
Nothing has changed on the Spaceship Earth FastPass+ front where maximum FP+ distribution most days has pushed up standby wait times considerably. Waits over January 25, when Epcot was the most recommended Park with an overall crowd level of 4:
It’s the reality of a day with below average attendance.
The scene at Living with the Land at 1:20pm with a 20-minute posted wait. Fast forward a little more than an hour and the posted wait drops down to exactly zero minutes. The Land sees an influx of people around lunch time both because of Sunshine Seasons’ popularity and the number of people that arrive at 11am and head straight to Soarin’, only to balk at the wait time and head over to “whatever this boat ride is” instead.
Your wait with FP+ with a 20-minute posted wait should be three or four minutes. The line doubles back once after the FP+ merge point.
I’m guessing “Extremely Hot Pepper” is not the scientific name. Actually, the Carolina Reaper is the Guinness Book of World Records’ hottest pepper in the world with a peak of 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units. I don’t know what a Scoville Heat Unit is, but those little peppers Papa John’s puts in their pizza boxes are 500 units, or about 2,199,500 less. So uhhhhh I’ll take a bite right after you.
Hops Mickey is now Spinach Mickey.
Proof that no matter how heavy your melons are you can still hang them from a tree – Old Tibetan proverb seen on the Animal Kingdom construction walls.
I believe this is a dance move similar to the Macarena.
A variety of herbs rotating around a rosemary bush is a sentence I bet you were not expecting to read today.
Soarin’ and Test Track tend to have the longest actual waits with FastPass+. A 60-minute wait at Soarin’ is pretty standard and it’s going to take a full 28-minutes from the time we get in line to the time we’re back out front. FP+ here gets you through most of the initial wait, but there’s a considerable wait for the pre-show and then the pre-show itself, in addition to the time it takes to walk all the way back here from the theater. It looks like Disney is in the process of building a third theater in anticipation of Soarin’ Around the World.
If Epcot was “busy” you’d see an extended queue for Turtle Talk with Crush.
30+ minute waits for The Seas with Nemo aren’t all that uncommon either.
Virtually none of the effects on the ride work these days. Disney can’t even figure out how to make this shark move six inches forward and six inches back.
At least the FP+ touch point is themed.
Don’t worry, there has been no slouching on the menu front. This kiosk in between The Land and Imagination Pavilions now has visual aids.
Just in case you forgot what carrots look like.
And looking at them seems too arduous a task. Hey, you are ON VACATION after all. It’s not like we are going to be forced to pick single-hour windows for specific rides at 12:01am 60+ days in advance or anything.
Maybe a Cinderella-themed playground for Flower/Garden this year?
They’re still working on this Canadian lumberjack show with the addition of this small log-rolling pond in front of the stage. One wonders if it would have been more intelligent to keep Off Kilter.
Looking into France.
This portion of the blog post is sort of like the Mine Train Memory Maker video where if you ride at night, the on-ride portion is still shown during the day. Les Chefs de France is the casual French brasserie located underneath the ritzier Monsieur Paul. You almost never see Monsieur Paul reviews, but the website has two in case you’re curious, here and here.
Les Chefs serves a separate, less expensive lunch menu that I tend to recommend over the more expensive dinner menu. The restaurant also only accepts the 20% Tables in Wonderland discount at lunch. Menu (or easier to read on DisneyWorld.com):
This review dates back to January 10 with our friends Julia and Steve, whom you may remember from the BoardWalk Inn/Crescent Lake Beaches and Cream review.
The $9.99 St. Germain Cocktail is a refreshing blend of sparkling wine, St. Germain liqueur, and Perrier. Elderflower liqueur is all the rage these days, offering a subtle floral aroma with hints of citrus zest. It instantly freshens the flavor of most cocktails without increasing viscosity, though it’s difficult to pin down exactly what the liqueur itself tastes like. Anyway, this is a safe bet for someone that doesn’t really like wine or beer with its clean flavor and relatively low alcohol content.
Wine is a racket just about anywhere on property and Les Chefs is no exception, selling this $9 bottle for $30. It’s still a better value than most of Italy.
Lisa ordered the Cassolette d’escargots de Bourgogne au beurre persillé (Escargot) – Casserole of Burgundian escargots baked in parsley and garlic butter – $12.99. As good of an excuse as any to spoon butter, garlic, and bread in your mouth as any, Les Chefs’ escargot are cooked well with a nice, non-rubbery texture and the flavor of the snail able to shine through the garlic butter.
Complimentary French baguettes still warm from the oven are served alongside frozen butter packets. Food usually comes out of the kitchen quickly, but you ought to try to rush a crusty, chewy bite or two in the meantime.
Steve ordered the Tartine au poulet et légumes Provençaux (Open-faced Chicken Sandwich) – Open-faced sandwich topped with chicken, roasted eggplant, zucchini, provolone cheese and sun-dried tomatoes – $15.99.
While it looks good, he commented that the chicken lacked flavor and the sandwich was altogether bland, which is a common theme these days.
Julia ordered the $14.99 Croque Monsieur (Classic Ham and Cheese Sandwich) – The classic French toasted Ham and Cheese sandwich served with a Green Salad with fries as a no-hassle substitution. After having enjoyed a sandwich of the same name at a local shop the week before, she thought Les Chefs’ was dry with bread that was too thick for the meager filling. It was “okay,” but you’d think they could figure out how to do it right.
I ordered the Crêpe à la Tartiflette de Savoie (Crêpe from the Alps) filled with smoked ham, onions and potatoes, topped with melted reblochon cheese – $15.99 that I enjoyed a lot. It was a creamy blend of the toppings inside a very delicate, crispy shell and served piping hot.
Lisa ordered the Tomate et fromage de chèvre (Tomato and Goat Cheese Flatbread) – $13.99, which she enjoyed enough from a previous visit to order again (not bloggable). The extreme thinness is not evident from the picture, but the crust is paper-thin on the bottom with an oily residue that makes it a little messy to pick up. That’s about the worst thing you can say about this sizable pie that offers just enough goat cheese to get a little in every bite. While I don’t think it gives Via Napoli a run for its money in the pizza department, it’s share-able as an appetizer or could make for a nice, potentially lighter meal.
You can get out of Les Chefs for lunch for not a whole lot more than quick service if you stick to the $15ish dollar entrees like the quiches, crepes, pizzas, and sandwiches. Service is virtually always attentive and a meal here is more relaxing and more fun than just about any fast food option around World Showcase. While the flavors of some of the ingredients weren’t as robust as we might have liked, nobody had any trouble polishing off just about every last bite.
You may remember during an update last month that Tangierine Cafe had switched up its menu considerably, adding a new most-expensive-quick-service-entree in the $17.99 Saffron Chicken and eliminating the Wraps, in addition to other changes. This was that menu:
I’m happy to report that (that) change was extremely short lived and the menu is now back to more or less what it was before. The current menu:
Interestingly, the Chicken/Lamb Combo is the same price, while the Lamb by itself is up $1 and the Chicken by itself is up $2. The Lamb Wrap and Falafel Wraps are up $1, while the Chicken Wrap is up $2. The Vegetable Platter is also up a dollar. The Kefta Sandwich is now a Kefta Wrap for the same money and with the same ingredients.
I liked Mo’Rockin’…
Finally! A decent wall!
Katsura Grill in Japan is not a personal favorite, though I like their chicken cutlet curry a lot. Yet here we are:
The $11.99 Shogun Combo hasn’t changed in years. My opinion is that the beef is fatty, the chicken is extremely low quality, and the teriyaki sauce is far too sweet. But somebody must like it.
The $12.99 Chicken Cutlet Curry is the antithesis of photogenic, but don’t let that deter you from ordering the sizable cutlet deep fried and served on top of spicy brown curry and white rice. Very filling and a great item when it’s cooler out as it’s served piping hot.
Lisa ordered the $9.50 Spicy Roll, of which this is a lousy picture.
A better picture of the sushi from the vault. Back in the day (two years ago), you could add a side of Tsukemen – Mixed Greens, Ramen Noodles, and Shredded Crab Stick for $4. Unfortunately, that’s off the menu entirely. Anyway, this same sushi is available at virtually every resort quick service on property and is pretty lousy with some of the lowest quality ingredients you’ll find in World Showcase. Not particularly filling either.
A $3.99 side of edamame is a nice snack or side.
I ordered the $10.99 Tempura Shrimp Udon. An intrinsic problem with this dish is that the crunchy tempura shrimp are rendered immediately soggy in the soup. And while the bowls feature an attractive look, they aren’t insulated at all, which means your soup will cool off quickly. Otherwise, this is what you would expect from udon soup – a very salty clear broth and long, thick wheat flour noodles served with two fairly large shrimp. It’s not a particularly filling meal, but it’s potentially nice on a cool winter day. The beef might be a wiser protein.
The $7.50 Kids’ Meal, served here with extra rice in place of vegetables, may also be a good choice for adults looking for a smaller meal.
I noticed the Iced Green Tea was the same price as a standard soft drink and went ahead and ordered one. The cast member working the register will warn you that it’s served unsweetened. The tea arrived with virtually no flavor to speak of – it could have just as easily been green water. A sugar packet or two might have spiced things up.
WDW Planter chillin’ around the tower in Italy.
I’ll try to run a big update on the Drinking Around the World post next month. In minutia news, the cart outside the Germany Pavilion will now serve you a 12-ounce bottle of Erdinger Dunkel for 75 cents more than a 16-ounce Altenmunster Oktoberfest on draft.
The beer has long been available back at the Weinkeller store that serves wine and beer by the glass. For a dark beer, Erdinger’s dunkel is surprisingly light on the tongue while still maintaining a respectable ABV of 5.3%. The toasty malt flavors are otherwise what you would expect from this style. It’s a great beer, but my advice would be to pick up a 6-pack at the store and instead enjoy the Altenmunster on draft, which is relatively difficult to find.
Over at the Refreshment Cool Post/”Africa” in between China and Germany, the menu sees a few changes. The Frozen Elephant is a permanent addition.
It does not pack much of an alcoholic punch, but it’s very refreshing with the creaminess of the African liqueur blending well with the artificial flavors of the Frozen Coca Cola. Interestingly, the liqueur is made with the fruit of the marula tree, which is known as the “elephant tree” because the animal enjoys eating the fruit so much.
The Chocolate and Dulce de Leche frozen yogurts also continue being available after proving popular at the Food and Wine Festival. It’s a bit strange that they aren’t mentioned on the menu outside of the sundae, but either flavor can be purchased without the topping for $3.99.
The toppings are advertised separately…
The Puffin’s Roost signage returns to the Norway Pavilion as the front of the store is open again after being temporarily converted to the Anna/Elsa meet and greet.
Maelstrom’s replacement is still expected to be more than a year off.
A line to walk around the Stave Church.
Permits have been filed to build an expansive Frozen-themed meet and greet building in between the Mexico and Norway Pavilions.
Milagro tequila is out in the Mexico Pavilion in favor of Casa Noble. Frozen margaritas are 45 cents more expensive. The tequila flight is two dollars more expensive. The beer is 50 cents more expensive and the other tequila shots are different. And that’s just since last August.
A wall around where the mariachi band typically performs.
Inside at La Cava del Tequila, the number of pre-made jugs of margaritas has expanded to more than a dozen. I don’t think they make anything fresh anymore unless you advertise yourself as a blogger or major “social media personality.”
A few souvenirs:
And a sunset.
Photography remains a scam.
A panicked “throw the camera in the air and try to take a picture of the sky while the monorail is whizzing by and hope nobody notices it’s three exposures and there are like 70 windows on the monorail.” It’s a nice reflection at least.
Finishing strong with a walled-off-water-play-area.