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View Full Version : Dining at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park is about to get a makeover


huey578
05-01-2007, 05:19 PM
Interesting article,not sure if this has already been posted.

Orlando Business Journal - LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Dining at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park is about to get a makeover.
By
May 1, 2007



Orlando Business Journal - LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Dining at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park is about to get a makeover.

Most of the popular internationally themed restaurants in Epcot's World Showcase area have begun to show their age, say some restaurant operators.

Four major eateries will undergo overhauls in the next year -- those in the theme park's Italy, Japan, China and Mexico pavilions.

Three Disney-operated restaurants in Epcot are getting minor touchups -- in the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany pavilions.

In addition, the planned makeover of the restaurant in the France pavilion is still in design, and won't start for a year or two.

Big bucks
Eight major eateries in the park's pavilions opened 25 years ago, and contracts signed then between Disney -- at a time when the entertainment giant was eager to create culinary credibility -- are coming up for renewal.

While Disney won't reveal any dollar amounts for these deals -- and the restaurant operators are guarding the competitive details of their contracts closely -- one participant says it's big bucks.

Contract re-negotiations this time around focused on longer terms and larger capital commitments than previously, says Ricky Debler, president of San Angel Inn LLC, which runs the Mexico pavilion restaurants in Epcot.

"Disney needs improvements and capital investments in Epcot," says Debler. "This is a way to revitalize and update the pavilions. All together, it's a huge chunk of money."

Goodbye, Alfredo
The biggest change is in the Italy pavilion.

L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante will close Aug. 31, and a new operator, the Patina Restaurant Group, will reopen the space the next day, operating a generic Italian restaurant with a different menu until the summer of 2008, when it will close for remodeling. It will open again late next year with a new name, new look and new menu.

Alfredo's management would not comment on Disney's decision. The company, Alfredo, the Original of Rome (Fla.) Inc., is run by Russell Bellanca, son of the man who owned the North American rights to the use of the name of the original Roman restaurant. Disney says it's the most popular at Epcot, grossing more than $20 million last year.

The decision to change the Italian restaurant operator came about as a business opportunity to modernize the eatery, says Memo Emec, Disney's regional manager of operating participants.

Those close to Alfredo's say the company's management was surprised by the decision. It's possible the company will use the value of the Alfredo's brand and relocate off Disney property, perhaps in a non-Disney hotel in Lake Buena Vista.

Hello, sushi
Meanwhile, in Epcot's Japan pavilion, Tempura Kiku and the Matsunoma Lounge have been demolished to make way for a new Japanese eatery with an emphasis on sushi, says Memo.

As yet unnamed, the redesign will take advantage of the views of the World Showcase area of Epcot from the second floor seating area when it reopens, currently slated for Aug. 25.

The China pavilion in Epcot has added new tea kiosk, The Joy of Tea, which opened in March and features an array of popular cold and hot teas, including the whimsical bubble tea -- fruit flavors with small tapioca pearls drunk through an oversized straw.

The quick-serve Lotus Blossom Cafe has gotten an updated look without losing traditional menu items.

The main restaurant, Nine Dragons, will close in early 2008 for a revamp. The kitchen, says Memo, will be redesigned to allow guests to interact with the chefs at five different stations, ordering and watching the food being prepared.

Tequila toast
During a makeover of the ride in Epcot's Mexico pavilion, Disney also added 25 more seats to the San Angel Inn restaurant.

At the end of this summer, Debler will open a 50- to 60-seat tequila bar in a former retail shop, emphasizing the historical and cultural aspects of the classic Mexican beverage.

Major changes are planned for the pavilion's outdoor eatery, Cantina de San Angel, including a kitchen expansion, realigning seating areas to improve the view of the World Showcase lagoon and a new menu -- all expected to be done by next summer.

Moreover, three other original World Showcase restaurants will see varying degrees of change: Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion, the Biergarten in the Germany pavilion and the Rose & Crown Pub & Restaurant in the United Kingdom pavilion are scheduled for minor rehabilitation.

The two other major sponsored restaurants, in the French and Moroccan pavilions, won't see any changes until at least 2008. Insiders say both pavilions sponsors are on track to continue their presence, and at least one, Chefs de France, will see some major updating if negotiations proceed as planned.

fla4fun
05-01-2007, 05:23 PM
Interesting article. I know a lot of people don't like Nine Dragons, but I do. I hope they don't change the cuisine too much (although I would like more hot and spicy dishes on the menu). If they freshen up all the restaurants, maybe it spread the crowds around a bit and make some places easier to get into (like Le Cellier).

ufgator
05-01-2007, 06:27 PM
Thanks for posting. I knew about Alfredo but didn't know about the other countries.

webray
05-01-2007, 06:41 PM
That's great..now let's hope they put a nice sitdown in the American Pavillion..like the old Fireworks Factory that used to be in downtown disney/pleasure island area. Great bbq'd ribs and chicken with that excellent cornbread and fixins is just what is needed back there.



Definately looking forward to all the changes.

disneyag
05-01-2007, 06:44 PM
Very interesting!

suzimar57
05-01-2007, 07:09 PM
great article - in a year or so from now, there should be lots of new changes to the WS restaurants - looking forward to that

Nienor
05-01-2007, 08:19 PM
At the end of this summer, Debler will open a 50- to 60-seat tequila bar in a former retail shop, emphasizing the historical and cultural aspects of the classic Mexican beverage.
I wonder how many people will be thinking about the historical and cultural aspects after a few tequilas.

huey578
05-01-2007, 08:22 PM
I'm looking forward to see how the tequila bar turns out. I have a feeling alot of folks will be seeing pink elephants...haha

gigi1313
05-01-2007, 08:24 PM
i knew the restaurant in japan was getting a make-over, but i had NO IDEA that the menu/style (teppan) would change so much... now i've gotta re-think my adrs for august... argh!

disneyjunebug
05-01-2007, 08:30 PM
Tequila toast
During a makeover of the ride in Epcot's Mexico pavilion, Disney also added 25 more seats to the San Angel Inn restaurant.

At the end of this summer, Debler will open a 50- to 60-seat tequila bar in a former retail shop, emphasizing the historical and cultural aspects of the classic Mexican beverage.



Now, this is my kind of history lesson.....

Pumbaa_
05-01-2007, 08:31 PM
very interesting. I like the idea of a better sushi area in Japan. Seems appropriate. BUt it sounds like they are keeping the Teppanyaki area and changing the other areas.

Donald is #1
05-01-2007, 08:33 PM
Wow! In general, I am excited about the changes but I hope that they still have tappanyaki tables in Japan since I am not a fan of sushi.

huey578
05-03-2007, 08:13 AM
They are still going to have the tappanyaki tables. Sounds like they are just expanding the sushi area.

MA pigletfan
05-03-2007, 08:20 AM
THE JOY OF TEA!! i didnt' even know that was there...does anyone know if the teas ( i am particularly curious about bubble tea!) are on the DDP??
i "heart" tea!

sotoalf
05-03-2007, 08:37 AM
A great idea some of these restaurants were showing their age.

Is the Matsunoma Lounge really gone already? Can anyone confirm?

SandraVB79
05-03-2007, 08:38 AM
I'm looking forward to see how the tequila bar turns out. I have a feeling alot of folks will be seeing pink elephants...haha

And the complaining will start: Epcot WS should not be linked with Disney movies (in this case, the pink elephants out of Dumbo) ;) :rolleyes1

huey578
05-04-2007, 06:36 AM
And the complaining will start: Epcot WS should not be linked with Disney movies (in this case, the pink elephants out of Dumbo) ;) :rolleyes1

haha:lmao:

Uncleromulus
05-04-2007, 06:49 AM
Interesting.
They'd have been better off REMOVING 25 seats from San Angel. That restaurant is already impossibly crowded.

Harambe
05-04-2007, 08:37 AM
WOW! I just convinced the family to try new things for our August trip. One was to skip Yakatori and try the Tempura place! Oh well . . .

wendy46001
05-04-2007, 08:40 AM
Looks like drinking around the world is going to get a great new kick start....I second who ever said now that is a history lesson....I wonder if we will make it out of Mexico....


A great idea some of these restaurants were showing their age.

Is the Matsunoma Lounge really gone already? Can anyone confirm?

Yup its closed...and good thing....after they shut down the fryers a week before the official closing and took the tempura off the menu...the made the most horrible culinary blunder of the world...the Hotdog Sushi Roll....
Yuck....it was seriously the grossest thing i've ever seen.... Even had a good laugh about what us Americans eat with the Sushi chiefs...

Colleen27
05-04-2007, 09:21 AM
i knew the restaurant in japan was getting a make-over, but i had NO IDEA that the menu/style (teppan) would change so much... now i've gotta re-think my adrs for august... argh!

I don't think they're changing the teppan menu, though. I've read in several sources that there will still be teppan tables, but the dining area will expand to include what was the lounge. If they're going to put more emphasis on sushi, it would make sense that they'd want to add some regular tables in addition to the teppan tables, to cater to those who would visit for sushi & sake and not order anything off the teppan menu.

Personally, I'm hoping that "an emphasis on sushi" will mean at least *some* sushi offering that is DDP eligible. :goodvibes DS & I love sushi, so even if it is still excluded, I'm sure I'll still order some OOP.

Hope73
05-04-2007, 09:23 AM
Thanks so much. It is amazing that they are that old. Change is good and I am sure Disney will do it well.

Colleen27
05-04-2007, 09:27 AM
I'm looking forward to see how the tequila bar turns out. I have a feeling alot of folks will be seeing pink elephants...haha

I'm actually kind of looking forward to trying that. We had some tequila in Mexico that was nothing like the liquid fire I did shots of in college, and I was really surprised that tequila could taste *good*. :lmao:

DiRTyBuNNy
05-04-2007, 09:29 AM
I'm impressed with the amount of changes being made to WS. I've had dinner at both Nine Dragons and Teppanyaki and was underwhelmed with both of them (we have 2 great Teppan-style restaraunts in Knoxville that were actually better than Teppanyaki at WS)

--Mr. DB

NMW
05-04-2007, 09:37 AM
Thanks for posting. The changes sound great!

canda
05-04-2007, 01:22 PM
Wow, I this is great! I was telling someone the other day that with Quick Service Mexi-Fresh concept the fastest growing trend right now, I wouldn't be surprised if Cantina was redone to be more of a Qdoba type eatery.

(or moe's, barbaritos, chipotle, baja fresh, salsaritas, etc....etc.)

Now they say they will rework the building to offer more veiws of the lake.

Get your table by 4:30 and eat real slooooooowwwww.

kelleigh1
05-04-2007, 01:26 PM
Very interesting. Thanks for posting. We'll have to keep an eye on things as we want to eat at one of the Epcot world eateries on our November trip but haven't exactly decided which at this point.

Cinderumbrella
05-04-2007, 01:36 PM
We have ADRS's at the Japanese place for 8/30 (right after the re-opening) and I truly hope the tepan tables are still there!! I am alergic to seafood so sushi is out for me :sad1:

MissionMouse
05-04-2007, 01:58 PM
Interesting article and again we see Disney leveraging to reduce cost and liability. With the proven revenue generating locations of the WS there is nothing like using a contract renewal time to get them to make the improvements for Disney.

Cookie Princess
05-04-2007, 07:24 PM
That's great..now let's hope they put a nice sitdown in the American Pavillion..like the old Fireworks Factory that used to be in downtown disney/pleasure island area. Great bbq'd ribs and chicken with that excellent cornbread and fixins is just what is needed back there.



Webray...we are dating ourselves now! ;) We too loved the Fireworks Factory and think something similar would be a nice addition to EPCOT!

Piglets Mommy
05-04-2007, 08:01 PM
Wow! I had heard about Alfredo's and the added seats in San Angel Inn, but not the others. Now I'm really going to have a tough time deciding what ADR's to make for Epcot in Dec!

lajones81
05-04-2007, 08:31 PM
Very interesting! Thanks for posting! :) :) :)

TigerKat
05-04-2007, 08:43 PM
Looks like drinking around the world is going to get a great new kick start....I second who ever said now that is a history lesson....I wonder if we will make it out of Mexico....


My thoughts exactly!!:cool1:

gatour
05-05-2007, 07:54 PM
Back in mid-march I visited the lounge at the Japan pavillion, at that time the tempura had been discontinued.

I overheard the GM talking to some winerey representatives, where he mentioned that they are going to expand and the crane had just arrived. After enjoying a glass of wine, I walked out on the deck and walked in front of the lounge to the far end, and saw a good portion of land cleared next to the restaurant (you can't see it from ground level.

The newspaper article mentioned above pretty much confirms my suspicion about what will be happening in regards to restaurants around the World Showcase. The only new additional insights were the Chinese pavillion and the Mexican Cantina.

I wonder if it will be like a buffet with a mongolian grill, sometype of noodle station etc.

Dana49
05-06-2007, 06:50 AM
Thanks for posting. I saved the article to my Disney file.

:surfweb:

huey578
05-07-2007, 08:06 PM
I'm looking forward to all the upcoming changes

CoolPool
05-07-2007, 10:22 PM
quote: Hello, sushi
Meanwhile, in Epcot's Japan pavilion, Tempura Kiku and the Matsunoma Lounge have been demolished to make way for a new Japanese eatery with an emphasis on sushi, says Memo. unquote

Its about 15 years too late to excite us, but is about bloody time.

scejas
05-08-2007, 12:07 AM
I'm glad there are changes on the way -- for the price food has to get better at some of these locations.

The only places I trust anymore is Le Celier and California Grill --- and VA

Poohbear123
05-08-2007, 12:57 AM
I'm looking forward to all the upcoming changes

Me too, and its about time!:thumbsup2

huey578
05-08-2007, 08:23 PM
bump

Aimeedyan
05-08-2007, 08:52 PM
Oooh, thanks for posting this! And bumping it since I missed it the first time!

I'm excited about any changes, honestly - just my personality - but this sound like ones to really look forward to! Esp the tequila bar ;)

huey578
05-14-2007, 12:47 PM
I wonder if Les Chefs is due for a rehad