Disney unveiled two of the turrets that are part of the larger Hub expansion on July 9th. Some new-ish walls are up in front of Cinderella Castle on the right side, in addition to the walls that still surround areas around both sides of the Castle.
Walt is back out from his box as the center of The Hub is basically construction free.
Other turrets remain behind large walls poorly camouflaged with scrims.
The Castle is at the top of this concept art provided by Disney.
Work otherwise continues where the Rose Garden used to sit.
Trees and grass are going in here.
Over the wall on the Tomorrowland side.
Work on the Adventureland side.
Work is ramping up on what is expected to be a Jungle-Cruise-themed restaurant in Adventureland.
Construction has caused the temporary relocation of Princess Tiana, who ordinarily meets here in her gazebo.
In the meantime, you can meet her here at Heritage House, which operated as a FastPass+ kiosk area for a while and a store before that.
Look at me. I’m the captain now.
Speaking of transportation, there’s a new stoplight just after the auto plaza/parking gate at Magic Kingdom on the far right side.
This won’t have any effect on those headed to the Transportation and Ticket Center/parking lot, but you will run into it if you’re headed in the direction of the Polynesian/Grand Floridian/Contemporary/Fort Wilderness/Wilderness Lodge etc. It’s a somewhat necessary addition as traffic coming from the left historically just had a stop sign, which led to the occasional long backup, in addition to a higher chance that a car would get T-boned trying to cut across traffic at an inopportune time. Disney Resort Operations took over Transportation Operations from Facilities and Operations Services (say that five times fast) a little more than a year ago. It’s a bigger deal than it sounds like considering how budgets work and there are some bigger changes expected at Transportation in the near future.
Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge is my favorite to visit on property, consistently offering fantastic food in a dark, intimate setting that doesn’t suffer from the strident cackling of guests at a spot like Trader Sam’s.
Here around 9pm on a Thursday evening, there are just a handful of other people, but I’ve also visited when there aren’t any tables available. Like most things, it tends to be busiest on Saturday nights.
The menu recently underwent a few changes. Above is the current version. This is what it looked like back in March:
The new menu | is sort of | laid out | funny. The “soup” is now a “bisque.” The pork is probably still pulled. The Romaine Salad replaces the Edamame. The Caprese Flatbread is in while the Banh Mi Flatbread is out. The donuts from Artist Point are new. Charcuterie is missing, but a new version is expected to return shortly.
I wouldn’t say I was feeling apoplectic over the change from the hot sauce seen above to a miso-soy glaze, but I’m not sure it was necessary either. Saying the website awarded them “the highest recommendation” in this review was probably a death sentence.
The new wings arrive at a price point that’s two dollars more expensive than the hot wings and without the celery or an additional dipping sauce.
The portion is still plenty large with exactly a dozen meaty wings favoring a nice, crispy exterior. The sauce is equal parts salty and sweet and the sesame seeds provide a bit of a nutty, earthy quality, in addition to enhancing the crispiness of the skin. I’m not sure the flavor profile will be as popular as the more common buffalo-style, but they are expertly prepared and even with the price increase, offer a better value than most other items. (I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t say anything.) They’re a terrible value Disney! You better lower the price! *loads up change.org petition.
Lisa ordered what the menu describes as a “Caprese Flatbread – Heirloom Tomatoes | Garlic | Ricotta | EVOO | Salt.” The use of the word “caprese” is a little strange here as there’s no basil or the stereotypical thick slices of mozzarella, instead replaced by ricotta and garlic. The predominant flavor was garlic and the oil made for a sort of slimy texture with some of the ricotta that didn’t melt. On the plus side, the crust had a nice chew to it and the tomatoes were nicely seasoned and fresh, if not few in number. While not advertised, there was a very small amount of balsamic in the center, but it was only enough to cover one or two bites. It wasn’t exactly “bad,” but it wasn’t what we were expecting and the overwhelming garlic flavor was a bit of a turn off.
Surprisingly, Pinocchio Village Haus’s quick service caprese flatbread is more like what you would expect.
The Wilderness Lodge stirring sticks are still around.
I almost never order dessert, but the House-made Donuts “…Cinnamon-Sugar | Nutella | Marionberry Jam | direct from Artist Point sounded too good to pass up. The four donuts are served with this cute little paper bag on one end and the Nutella in a small dish on the other.
I asked the server if the donuts were “particularly heavy” as I wasn’t looking to end my evening with a big gut bomb. She said she, “wouldn’t describe them that way.” And considering the only way I wasn’t going to order them is if she said that they had the “approximate weight of a 400-ton truck,” I went ahead and ordered. The donuts are indeed light and fluffy, served hot and fresh from the fryer and filled with the jam inside. The cinnamon and sugar add an appropriate amount of sweetness and the Nutella adds some nutty chocolate-yness if that’s the direction you want to go in. Overall, I thought the price point was a little high for what amounts to about ten bites. On the other hand, they are outstanding.
While I wasn’t in love with some of the changes to the menu, it doesn’t affect my desire to return whenever possible.
I’ve been spending most of my time getting archival posts updated for the transition to the new website layout. We should see February 2016’s operating schedule released either today or Monday, in addition to some operating schedule changes for August – January.