Okay I thought this was going to be a nice World Showcase update but it is just a La Cava rant and a Nine Dragons lunch review. Proceed if you are in the mood.
It’s time to battle the crowds through World Showcase for as good of an update as we can hope for with all of these people around. This particular picture was taken at 12:45pm on Friday May 6th.
Under serious duress, the website would admit that it has neglected Epcot for the most part since hitting the Flower/Garden booths hard back in early March. I did cover rope dropping Joy/Sadness/Baymax and would remind you that none of those characters offer FastPass+, in addition to reviewing Garden Grill breakfast yesterday in this post.
I had expected Frozen to be open by now and it probably would be if not for that seventh fire. But I would still expect the meet and greet to open sooner rather than later as we get closer to the official, still undated opening next month.
START LA CAVA DEL TEQUILA RANT
Scroll down to “END LA CAVA DEL TEQUILA RANT” if you would like to skip it.
It should come as no surprise, but the website has been negative on La Cava del Tequila inside the Mexico Pavilion for a couple of years now.
The fact is that at one time, they served an excellent, premium product at a higher price point than most other outlets. But the higher price was justified because the quality of their drinks was that much better. If you were to read anything that I had to say about La Cava before early 2014, it would be 100% glowing. They used to be fantastic.
But for the last couple of years, they have made their drinks in large batches and poured them out of these plastic jugs that they have behind the counter.
Nobody else will tell you this because La Cava hooks up people that are positive about them, particularly on Twitter. And they actually host a private group on Twitter and when somebody says something negative about their operation, a bunch of them will start tweeting at you about how you’re wrong. Most of the prominent “Twitter personalities” are in this group. And it’s why you hear so much positivity. This brand of marketing is of course not unique to La Cava. It’s smart business.
Edit: Apparently this private Twitter group is moving to WhatsApp and requiring the phone numbers of everyone in their “focus group.”
But last month, La Cava just about halved the size of their drinks. You are looking at $36.45 worth. Compare the current cups above.
To the old ones. I’ve marked off around where the new cups end.
Also be careful because they have a new device that they use to swipe your credit card. Instead of printing off a receipt with a tip line, they hand you the device which says, in this case:
- 18% – $5.56
- 20% – $6.18
- 25% – $7.72
So if you would like to tip any less than $5.56 on two drinks, you would have to read this device in the darkness and then press “4” for “Other” followed by inputting a different number. If they are pouring 25 drinks per hour at a $2.75 tip a piece, each jug pourer is pulling in $68.75 per hour in tips or $550 over eight hours. And more than most front line cast members would make in two weeks. Maybe they are hiring.
I do have some advice if you are still headed here.
The first is to select a different tequila than comes standard on the menu. I would not select “Mexican Coke” from the “Beer” section.
Wait, I guess they don’t even indicate which tequila each drink comes with anymore. So I would just pick a tequila off the menu above and ask if the drink can be made with that particular one. They should oblige and will make it fresh. Choosing an $11-$13 shot shouldn’t increase the price much, if at all.
My second piece of advice is to be a pretty girl. Nobody is handing me free shots of tequila I can assure you, but I had conned Erin from the Garden Grill review into tagging along with me while I took some sweet merchandise photos. On the day prior, they gave her a free shot of Patron and on this particular afternoon, handed her a second Avocado Margarita that was just about as tall as the first.
Meanwhile, I can’t even get 35% coverage on the salt rim.
My third piece of advice is to pay cash so you can leave a couple dollars per drink on the bar instead of awkwardly selecting “other” and then typing in a number on their tiny little keypad.
My fourth piece of advice is to tell them that you tweeted them earlier in the day about how excited you are to be there. They love that and it will increase your chances of receiving something “free” exponentially.
Otherwise, I tried the new-ish Beet Margarita this time around – Tequila, Beet Juice, Fresh Lime Juice, Ginger Liquor and Agave Nectar served on the rocks with a Poblano Pepper Salt Rim – $14.50. It was way too thick and syrupy. The thing about La Cava is that with how popular they are, they can’t possibly make all of their margaritas fresh. It’s not logistically possible in that space. But they are still charging a premium price for what is now a 6-ounce margarita with unnamed tequila. And you can’t control quality when you are making drinks in such large quantities. The ratios on my margarita were probably “correct” at one time, but when you are pouring concoctions that have sat for a while into individual glasses, you are obviously not distributing the correct amount of any particular ingredient. Erin’s Avocado Margarita was significantly thinner than the one she had received the day prior almost to the point where it was like drinking water. 2011 La Cava would have never served that. 2016 La Cava doesn’t care and probably didn’t even notice.
Those are today’s margarita thoughts.
It will be interesting to see if the margarita stand moves elsewhere with the Frozen Meet and Greet moving in right behind it.
END LA CAVA DEL TEQUILA RANT
For longtime reader Jimmy N. If you’re still out there Jimmy.
The Tomb Warriors exhibit has now closed.
It’s expected that a Shanghai Disneyland exhibit will open in its place.
Reflections of China is still being shown as it heads into its 13th anniversary later this month.
Lotus Blossom Cafe, the quick service in China, seems to waffle between this menu and the old one. I actually want to get over here to try the Sichuan Spicy Chicken.
I like Nine Dragons a lot, having enjoyed about a half dozen meals here in the last couple of years. Their reputation remains terrible I think, which may be a shame. I am not sure if anyone has eaten here recently, but feel free to chime in with your experience.
But even with positive recent experience, it is kind of hard to recommend it as your one table service meal in Epcot when so many other restaurants are more unique. Just about everybody is going to have a neighborhood Chinese restaurant, but you probably don’t have a Biergarten with an Oompah Band, San Angel Inn with perpetual darkness and a boat ride going by, or Chefs de France with real life French people.
Most of the menu should be recognizable with the usual Potstickers, Shanghai Spring Rolls that we are boycotting, Dumplings, etc.
The Chinese Burgers – Buns are a relatively new addition to celebrate the Year of the Monkey. We will be trying the General Tso version.
Most of these entrees are less expensive than most other on-property restaurants. You might remember that Be Our Guest Restaurant is demanding $16.99 for its Roast Beef Sandwich and Pecos Bill has a $16 Taco Burger on the menu. But with all but one entree here coming in at $20 or less, it’s not breaking the bank, relatively speaking. The average lunch entree at San Angel Inn in Mexico is $24.25 and lunch at Akershus is $54/adult to give you an idea of the neighboring options.
Happy Family is also available.
Or for $18 you can order a 3-course lunch. A lot of quick service entrees with a dessert would exceed that in price.
And portions are typically large. This is $17 worth of Sweet and Sour Pork with a side of Lightly Spiced Spinach Noodles.
$5 for a cup of Chicken Dumpling Consomme.
$17 for this Honey Sesame Chicken, which could be easily shared. This is three or four times as much food as you would get for $10.49 over at Lotus Blossom.
Those looking for a stiff cocktail or interesting beer have probably not come to the right place, at least in my experience. But the drinks also cost $8 compared to Morimoto Asia’s $16. So there’s that.
But you might like one of the teas, smoothies, or other beverages that don’t look like they break the bank.
But back to the meal at hand.
I failed to capture the size of the $8.98 General Tso’s Chicken Buns – Steamed Chinese Buns with Battered Fried Chicken Breast topped with Pork Floss and General Tso’s Sauce. But you could easily make a meal out of these and they are a terrific value at $9. A woman at a neighboring table had ordered these as an entree and didn’t finish them. It’s that much food. The chicken is otherwise nicely battered and juicy inside of the soft bun, which does an admirable job of keeping everything together. My only complaint was that I would have liked some more sauce. There is so much chicken and just the dollop of sauce on top. According to Wikipedia, pork floss, or Rousong, “is a dried meat product with a light and fluffy texture similar to coarse cotton, originating from China.” It did provide another layer of salty, sweet, fluffy deliciousness. But it really is a sizable portion so keep that in mind if you’re planning on following these with an entree. If they were offering these out at the Flower and Garden Festival for $4.50 a piece I don’t think you would hear a single complaint from me. I would just tell you to go straight to China.
I was dining with good-friend-of-the-site Anthony, who ordered the Lunch Special and started with the Vegetable Spring Rolls. They fulfilled expectations being light and not-at-all-greasy with a nice crunch to each bite. Certainly not a bad way to start a meal as we split these and the buns.
Most of the entrees sounded good, but I ended up going with the $17.98 Nine Dragons Lo Mein – Egg noodles stir fried with barbeque pork, beef, shrimp and vegetables.
If you’re thinking, “where are the shrimp Josh,” you’re not alone. There were just a couple and they were teeny tiny, which might be disappointing if you were expecting something larger. It’s otherwise a sizable pile of food with a lot of meat. I would have preferred a more flavorful sauce – there was just a light soy taste to the noodles, but it still tasted good.
Anthony continued with the Moo Goo Gai Pan – Sliced Chicken Breast Stir-Fried with Mushrooms and Snow Peas. Served with Steamed Rice. He mentioned that the plating left something to be desired and it is an awful lot of white/beige on top of a white/beige plate. But the chicken was very nicely stir fried with a nice assortment of vegetables and rice. Neither one of us were able to finish our entrees and our Disney appetite games are strong.
You have your choice of ice cream with the lunch set – this is the Caramel-Ginger version and it is extremely ginger-y with bits of candied ginger mixed in. But that is not necessarily a bad thing and it is cold and refreshing during the heat of the day.
I prefer the Strawberry-Red Bean option, which is lighter and more air-y in my opinion with an authentic strawberry taste.
Overall, I think Nine Dragons competes very well on price, portion, and flavor. It does not compete so well on overall experience, perhaps. I think service is typically a little more brusk than other restaurants. At a restaurant like Tokyo Dining, everyone is so nice. They’re not mean or anything at Nine Dragons, but it’s pretty obvious that you both realize that you will never see each other again. And while Nine Dragons is a very pretty restaurant, it’s still “just a nicely decorated room.” But it might be worth checking out if you’re looking at a potentially less costly option. It is a lot of food for your money and if you share an appetizer and entree, you might find yourself more satisfied than quick service for the same money. It’s certainly more comfortable than Lotus Blossom’s outdoor seating space.
Another potentially underrated aspect of China is the shopping I think.
Japan/Mitsukoshi receive a lot of hype, and deservedly so, but if you enjoy that store then you might find some interesting items here too.
And you can get super artsy with it:
And a lot of the snacks are priced the same as they would be at a grocery or specialty store if you could find them. 20 pouches for four bucks.
Amusingly(?), I had noticed that a lot of the various Pavilions had released new Pavilion-specific merchandise. And because the House of Good Fortune is so vast, I asked a cast member if they had anything specific to the Pavilion and the cast member snapped back that “if I was looking for something with Mickey Mouse I might try Mouse Gears [sic] at the front of the Park.” I laughed. And she’s not wrong.
So that is not much of an update on what’s happening at World Showcase.
We will push forward in the next update.