Many of us have probably not yet come to terms with the fact that come January 20th, 2017, we will be living in the United States of Russia under Chairman Trump with our nation’s new flag with just two stars flying high over the nation’s capitol in Helsinki. But I have what is perhaps more startling news: Electric Umbrella is not bad. Yes, the outlet that would have topped every “Worst Walt Disney World Quick Services” list back in 2007 serves up several entrees that are better than Sunshine Seasons, Tangierine Cafe, or whatever other counter service that you’ve heard is so spectacular.
And while the website, in its infinite smugness, will still scowl in the general direction of anyone circling World Showcase during the Food and Wine Festival with a carton full of Chicken Nuggets (looking at you Disney Food Blog), one thing is undeniably true: sometimes you just want a flippin’ theme park hamburger. After six hours of constant whining from dad, who was fed up with, “but Josh says….” long before the bus even pulled up to the Park. After three hours in line at Frozen Ever After only to find out that the ride has been down for two straight days. After waiting 75 minutes for Soarin’ Around the World only to find that the Eiffel Tower looks like it’s headed to the 2020 Summer Olympics to be used in the Pole Vault. After the 20 minutes that the $37 light up spinny thing lasted. I. Just. Want. A. Free. King. Ham. Bur. Ger. Topped with stuff that clearly does not belong on a hamburger. And a Heineken. Just don’t flip my meat.
Enter: Electric Umbrella.
The menu that was updated earlier this month is not terribly different than what we’ve seen over the last couple of years.
One interesting move is the $19.49 French Dip Burger Combo which comes with two sides in the apples and french fries, in addition to a fountain beverage and choice of dessert.
So if we start with the $19.49 price and subtract $3.29 for the drink and $4.59 for the most expensive dessert, we’re left with $11.61 for the burger and sides. The sides are historically “worth” $2, bringing the price of just the burger down to $9.61. The burger can be purchased separately for $13.29, so you are sort of saving $3.68 if you commit to the combo. Of course, if you opt for the fruit cup, you are “saving” 80 fewer cents. But there remains some savings if you are interested in the four items that the Combo provides.
But even that savings is difficult to ascertain considering there is no indication that the burger is available separately or how much it would cost if it is.
This is the old menu:
One minor change is in the Vegetarian Flatbread, which used to be described as having a “Tomato Pesto Base topped with Mushrooms, Feta, and Arugula.” And I reviewed that positively:
And while I’m not a vegetarian, I would put it high up on the list of vegetarian entrees that I have tried, including the Vegan Korma from Sunshine Seasons, Vegetarian Platter from Tangierine Cafe, Ensalada Mexicana from La Cantina, and Vegetarian Stir Fry from Lotus Blossom Cafe, among others. Epcot is actually pretty light on vegetarian entrees overall, I think.
Here’s a rather lousy picture of the full size version from last month.
But with the new description: “Topped with Hummus, Red Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms, Feta, Mozzarella, and Arugula,” I gave the new version a try yesterday.
This is the $5.99 Kids’ Picks version, which arrives with exactly half of the regular size flatbread, in addition to a choice of two sides and a beverage. For sides, they try to push the kids towards the Dannon Danimals Smoothie and Apples Slices, but Cherry Gelatin, French Fries, and a Cookie are also options. On the drink front, Disney recommends the Small Lowfat Milk or Dasani Water, but a Minute Maid Juice Box and Small Nesquik Chocolate Milk are advertised options and you can also opt for an unadvertised Small Fountain Beverage. So for six bucks, we have half the $10 Vegetarian Flatbread, a small side of fries, a cookie, and a refillable fountain beverage. That’s a tremendous amount of food for the money and would work as a small entree or a very hearty snack for most people.
The overall flavor profile was similar. It’s a ton of perfectly melted mozzarella with a generous sprinkling of tangy goat cheese. There are a lot of seemingly fresh vegetables too. The peppers add a bit of spice and the hummus is very similar to the old tomato pesto and offers a bit of garlic with a smooth flavor on top of the thin, crispy crust. I think the one thing that jumps out is that the new version doesn’t appear “burned” and instead looks like your usual baked cheese flatbread.
Overall, this tops my list of quick service vegetarian entrees at Epcot, though I am open to try other options next time if you think you’ve got a better contender.
For seating, you can get away from the hustle and bustle by sitting in the covered patio section outside, which offers some picturesque views of the Fountain of Nations and perhaps a less picturesque view of other tourists. For air-conditioning, head upstairs to the right of the ordering area (if it’s open) for a calmer experience than downstairs, though you’ll have to trek down for drink refills.
This is the $10.49 Sausage and Pepper Sandwich – Italian Sausage, Peppers, Onions, Tomato and Provolone served with Apple Slices and French Fries.
One thing you might notice from the menu here is that some entrees arrive with both fries and apple slices rather than a choice between the two. That’s true of other quick services operated by Disney, including ones like Liberty Inn over at Epcot with the above menu. However, note that the more expensive burger still requires a choice, while the other two sandwiches include both.
We’ll be reviewing the new Surf & Turf and Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Bacon soon.
Anyway, I was really impressed by the sandwich, which included several large, nicely spiced, tender Italian meatballs along with smaller chunks of pork inside of a fresh, nicely toasted roll with spicy red peppers and a hearty marinara sauce that’s topped with plenty of melted cheese. I am not necessarily a peppers-sandwich-person, so I was a little “concerned” that the peppers would be overwhelming or the texture/crunch would be off-putting, but they were soft enough that they blended into the sauce with each bite. The conclusion of this post is that you still don’t necessarily want to go to Electric Umbrella, but if you do end up there, I think many people will find the Sausage and Pepper Sandwich a better or at least equal option to whatever they were planning on ordering at a “more interesting” destination.
I have to apologize again for the quality of the photos as this was at night, inside Electric Umbrella, with pouring rain outside, and no flash. This is otherwise the $10.49 Energy Salad with Roasted Chicken, Seasonal Fruit, Feta and Pine Nuts. It’s a lot more vibrant than it looks in the picture with four or five ounces of sliced chicken breast on top. I expected them to be a little stingier with the accompanying ingredients otherwise, but there were enough blueberries to include one in most bites. Pine nuts, which are like $15/pound, were even more plentiful and added some crunchy texture, in addition to what is probably a very subtle, buttery flavor. If memory serves, the salad dressing was similar to a champagne vinaigrette – slightly creamy with a really nice tang that complemented the feta and contrasted nicely with the sweet, ripe fruit. Very good overall and a nice change of pace from the usual Caesar that you see virtually everywhere.
Sorry again about the picture. This would look at least 15% more majestic if I was holding it up against the fountain at sunset with a sunburst coming off at just the right angle over the top of the bun.
It is admittedly difficult to do much with Disney’s standard hamburger patty. If you are headed to any Disney quick service, there’s a 97% chance that it’s the same thing as every other Disney-operated quick service. But this one is a bit better than most with what is basically pot roast adding a beefier flavor, the fried onions adding some crunch and complexity, and the muenster cheese adding a very mild cheesy flavor underneath. Those looking for a greasy, satisfying theme park hamburger should find themselves satisfied. It’s certainly a filling endeavor.
The quick service added a couple additional sides a few months ago now.
The $2.99 Tomato Bisque Soup was surprisingly good and I’m fairly certain that it’s the same stuff that Beaches and Cream serves. Very creamy with several soft, identifiable chunks of tomato mixed in with a bold tomato flavor.
So with what is as close to a ringing endorsement as this website offers, should Electric Umbrella be added to your shortlist of possible quick service choices at Epcot? Well…….I don’t know……I’m not sure Sunshine Seasons is all that great these days. You might remember me mentioning from time to time that the increasing homogeneity of Disney quick and table service food has brought the traditional laggards up to a par that is lower than some of the best options would have been a few years ago. In other words, it’s all Disney quick service food and you’re not going to find a menu or food quality that is better across the board than another. Of course, that is only true for outlets operated by Disney. Third party operators, like Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom or Katsura Grill at Epcot, would offer different food.
With the decreasing temperatures and the pleasant afternoon highs of the fall and winter, picking up a couple entrees here and enjoying the fountain show outside very well could be a better experience than eating a Caesar Salad or Sweet & Sour Chicken carton inside the cave that is the Land Pavilion. And if you find yourself back on the Future World East side late at night for Test Track and/or Mission: SPACE and would rather stop for a more convenient bite than heading all the way back up to World Showcase to battle the IllumiNations crowds, then you might also find a surprisingly sublime experience at a quick service that we have all stuck our noses up at for decades.
I can at least commit to reducing the number of eyes that I roll whenever I see somebody walking into Electric Umbrella from two to one. And I will try to put out of mind that they may well enjoy their meal more than I did.