View Full Version : Sans Friends - Epcot, Tokyo Dining, Orlando Ale House
07-27-2009, 09:32 AM
Thursday, 13th November
We’re up at 7:30am and skip breakfast as we want to be at Epcot reasonably early this morning. We’re out of the door bang on 9am and, as we walk into the bus stop, an Epcot bus pulls up. We’ve been exceptionally lucky with the buses here. It’s overcast today with just one or two breaks in the cloud, but with more appearing as the bus takes us on our way.
We’re through the turnstiles before 9:30am and head straight to Soarin’ where we pick up FASTPASSes with a return time of 10:24 – 11:24. We’re mindful that we should probably make an ADR for lunch and, as we want to ride Spaceship Earth, make our way to Guest Relations in that area. We figure that one of the restaurants at either end of World Showcase would be a good bet. That way we can ride Soarin’, have lunch and then do a full circuit of World Showcase. Le Cellier and San Angel, though, are both fully booked. As Tokyo Dining is fairly new, we opt for that and make and ADR for 12 noon.
Our ride vehicle on Spaceship Earth is faulty with neither narration nor screen function. The CM at the end of the ride gets us straight back on. In the post-ride area we send our “postcard” home, along with one to our friend, Susan in Oklahoma. Hers is the only email address simple enough for us to recall.
Mouse Gear is one of my favourite shops on property and, as I haven’t yet had an opportunity to browse this trip, I pop inside for a scout around whilst Matt waits outside enjoying the Fountain of Nations. He’s always had a fascination with this. Maybe he thinks it’s a fountain of beer.
I’ve developed a splitting headache, so we head next for Club Cool where I grab a sample of something vaguely palatable to wash down a couple of painkillers. It’s now 11:10am, so a perfect time to head to Soarin’ with our FASTPASSes. Half way there, though, we realise we might find ourselves having to hot-foot it across to Japan for our lunch reservation, so do an about turn and make our way, instead, to World Showcase traversing in an anti-clockwise direction. As usual at this time of day, it’s absolutely dead (and, in fact, we don’t see any significant sign of life until we exit at the other end nearly two hours later).
It’s now really hot and humid – the hottest it’s been all trip – and the clouds are all of the white, fluffy variety. We’re thwarted in our attempt to buy a drink at the Rose and Crown. The doors are open, but despite hanging around for a good 5 minutes (which, according to Matt is 4 minutes, 55 seconds too long), no-one appears to take an order. The drinks cart outside isn’t open yet and, as we walk on, we notice that hardly any of the carts are open. Matt comments that this is the one park where he feels it’s not frowned upon to walk around with a drink in one’s hand. Clearly it is at 11:30am!
07-27-2009, 09:33 AM
We arrive at the Japan pavilion at 11:40 and the doors to the restaurant are opened at 11:45. Inside we’re given a pager and told that they start serving at noon. This is a delightful space – very chic and contemporary. The former interior has been completely ripped out and Tokyo Dining sits at the front half in the space formerly occupied by Teppanyaki and the Matsu No Ma lounge. It’s a pity the lounge couldn’t have been given a similar makeover and retained. The rear of the building now houses Teppan rooms off the entire length of a long corridor. They’re also very smart.
Shortly before noon, the entire kitchen and wait staff appears and performs a welcome ritual for those in the waiting area. It’s absolutely charming and I feel quite emotional. I toy with the idea of taking some photographs, but worry that it might be disrespectful.
The wait staff then swings into action and we’re shown to a table by the window with stunning views over World Showcase Lagoon. At the other end of the restaurant is a huge flat screen TV with constantly changing images of Japanese flaura. A most calming environment.
All the servers here are softly spoken and extremely gracious, but the bowing after every sentence does become a bit tiresome by the end of the meal. We start by ordering drinks – a Kirin for Matt and the Cherry Blossom Martini for me (which has saki and plum wine amongst its ingredients). It’s very good – really light and refreshing and not too sweet.
We’re offered forks, but decide to fumble our way with chopsticks as we’re both reasonably adept. We share the tempura to start – one shrimp, a strip of chicken, a slice of courgette and a slice of something which resembles sweet potato, but has the consistency of swede, together with the usual dipping sauce. With the exception of the courgette (which, it seems, emits a lot of liquid) the batter’s nice and crispy and it’s a marked improvement on the tempura shrimp I had at Yak and Yeti in January which was coated in regular batter rather than tempura batter.
To follow, we elect to share the Bento Box (described as a selection of traditional foods and flavors) and the Grilled Sirloin Steak. The steak is chosen thanks to the photo depiction in the menu – thick, juicy and succulent. It comes with a choice of sauces and we opt for the teriyaki.
In common with many of the Epcot restaurants, we find the food expensive and disappointing. The steak looks nothing like it does in the picture and, although it’s cooked to our medium rare specification, it’s tough and chewy. The Ahi Tuna in the Bento Box is probably the best of the lot. The box also contains a portion of beef in teriyaki sauce. It’s much nicer than the steak – soft and tender – and, had we known, we would maybe have ordered sushi rather than the steak. Although better than the steak, at $23.99, the Bento Box is poor; its entire contents looking tired and unappealing. We can’t help comparing it with the Bento Box at the Reunion Grande’s rooftop bar, Eleven, which is cheaper and far superior. To add insult to injury, we’re informed that the Tables in Wonderland card isn’t accepted here.
We leave with mixed feelings. We always like to try new places for ourselves, and we’re pleased we chose to eat and noon and, thus, got to experience the opening ceremony. This elegant space, though, deserves to be a stellar dining experience and we wonder why it is that Disney can’t bring the offerings at the parks up to the standard of those at the resorts. On the upside, they serve alcohol, so it can’t be all bad.
07-27-2009, 09:34 AM
We continue on around World Showcase, stopping in Italy for a Rosa Regale. That inevitably brings thoughts of Karen (CustardTart) and we raise a toast to all our DIS friends. We find a shady spot by the lagoon and sit there awhile commenting that we could happily do so for hours. The prospect of going home in a few days is, it seems, starting to seep into our collective consciousness.
Moving on, Matt collects a Dos Equis from Cantina de San Angel in Mexico and we walk a little further before taking up another seat in the shade outside the first of the shops on World Showcase Plaza. As we sit there, lazily people-watching, I spot a pair of familiar legs. We knew that Alan, Kaylee and Joseph were here at the same time as us and had hoped we’d bump into them at some point. We spend 10 minutes catching up with our respective trips. Like us, they’re going home on Sunday and this is their last Epcot outing. Despite the heat, Joseph very quickly gets over his initial wariness and finds a sudden spurt of energy. He’s soon happily chatting away and is proudly showing off the mask he’s created at the Kidstops around World Showcase. It bears his name in various different languages which have alphabets different to ours. He’s also keen to show us his Crocs bearing Lightning McQueen and Mater.
We go on our respective ways, which for us is over to Soarin’. Despite our FASTPASSes, we have a 15 minute wait (the standby line is showing 40). We’re assigned to one of the waiting areas for the back row. It bears 7 arrows and there are already 6 people waiting in front of us. I alert the attendant who takes us out of line and promises he’ll get us top and centre next flight. Unfortunately, he disappears just as a couple in the bottom row of the next group along decide they need a restroom break before riding and the attendant there ushers us into that space. Still, we’ve ridden many times before, so it’s not too big a disappointment and we leave commenting on the fact that we can’t quite put a finger on what makes this such a great attraction.
It’s now time to head back to the room for a rest. A short wait for the bus and we’re back by around 3:30pm – plenty of time to relax before getting ready for our 6:30pm rendezvous with our friend, Vernon (who you may recall phoned earlier in the week resulting in arrangements to meet up tonight at the Orlando Ale House at Lake Buena Vista).
Shortly before 6pm we’re making our way up to the Carriage House where we arrange for a cab to pick us up. Not only does the driver know exactly where we want to go (we were dubious as experience has shown that many of those who work on property are not too familiar with places outside its boundaries), but he takes us via the less busy back route and doesn’t hang around.
Despite being one of the bigger locations, the Ale House is packed to the gills. We’ve no chance of a seat at the bar, so we choose one of the high-tops from which we can keep an eye on the door. We order a bucket of Buds (and, yet again, Matt’s disappointed when he discovers it’s not literally a bucket of Bud with a couple of straws) and it’s not long before we spot Vernon coming in. He’s on his way home from work, having been on duty at Magic Kingdom today. By now, people are queuing out the door and having to wait for tables. It’s one of very few places this close to Disney where we’re very much in the minority as tourists. With its combination of atmosphere, and cheap beer and food, it takes some beating and there’s a real cross-section of the community represented here tonight including many in suits, quite obviously on their way home from work.
We order another bucket of beers and a Tommy Bahama Mama for me, as well as some food. Although they’ve got a tantalising new selection of 7 different Zinger options, I stick to my old favourite, the Zinger Melt. Vernon has the same (albeit he opts for the hot sauce to my medium) and Matt goes for medium wings. We all polish them off in good order, but are unanimously agreed that they’re not sufficiently hot for our individual tastes.
We’ve managed to see Vernon most trips for several years now and we spend a good couple of hours catching up before he drops us at Downtown Disney and goes on his way. We head straight to Sosa where Matt partakes of a Fuente and a couple of Makers Marks on the rocks, and I settle for a glass of Fess Parker chardonnay. One of my favourites, Cakebread chardonnay is on offer by the glass, but $20 is too much just for quaffing here, especially as I don’t imagine it’s one of their top sellers and there’s no way of knowing how long the bottle’s been open. Different with a nice meal in the setting of a fancy restaurant.
Once Matt has finished his cigar, we make the short walk to Raglan Road where he has a Guinness and I have a sweet Manhattan. The barman pours in some cherry juice from the jar, which is how Matt makes it and exactly how I like it.
Our decision to walk back to Saratoga Springs seems sound as we leave Raglan Road, but less so as our weary legs begin to put up a resistance to the onslaught they’ve been put through over the last couple of weeks. As we cross the bridge over the Sassagoula River, a CM in a golf cart picks us up and takes us the last several hundred yards. As much as we enjoy the walk, this was a most welcome turn of events this evening.
Postscript: In direct contrast to yesterday, today started out looking most unpromising, but turned into one of the hottest of the trip, with temperatures reaching near-record levels. My fluffy hair is testament to the high levels of humidity.
07-27-2009, 10:05 AM
Thanks for the heads-up Deb, I've made a mental note - don't go to the Rose & Crown if I want a drinkypoo at 11.30am :rotfl2::rotfl2:
Tokyo Dining looks amazing, what a shame that the food didn't live up to it's surroundings
Funnily I always think of Ms Tart when I get a Rose Regale too
Another great day with lovely pics Deb :thumbsup2
07-27-2009, 12:40 PM
Lovely day Deb, im pleased the weather was nicer todat.
And its great to hear that you bumped into the Robbins clan :)
07-27-2009, 12:53 PM
About my being the only friend you have with an e-mail address simple enough to remember--I guess it pays to keep things simple. I had no idea I was the only one to receive your Spaceship Earth Jetsons-like photo. I'm honored (simple, but honored).
You made Tokyo Dining sound like a place that had to go on next trip's list until you got the food. Uh-oh. Guess not. We had a peek at the dining room when we went to Teppan Edo in June. Other than the charming opening ceremony I don't think there's much to attract me to TD now.
The Fess Parker chardonnay you had at Sosa reminds me, let's decide right now to go to the Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard when we go to California. After all Fess is a Disney Legend. It's in Los Olivos just down the road from Solvang, made famous by both the movie Sideways (the FP tasting room was one of the movie's locations) and the Kevin Stringer August 2005 Trip Report.
A request: May I have some of the portrait photos of you and Matt from this report to frame, please. If you'll e-mail them, I'll print them. Thanking you in advance, Susan
07-27-2009, 02:55 PM
Mental note give Tokyo Dining a miss.
07-27-2009, 05:02 PM
Mental note ............... Bento Box Grand Reunion ....... 12 days time !!!:cool1::cool1::cool1:
07-28-2009, 12:04 PM
What a shame about the food at Tokyo Dining, especially as the restaurant itself looks so lovely.
Lovely photos that top you have on is lovely Deb
I love the Orlando Ale House, it always amazes me that the drink is so cheap when you have become used to Disney alcohol prices !!
07-28-2009, 02:47 PM
your photo's are fabulous. shame that TD did not live up to the price.
07-28-2009, 04:32 PM
Great day Debs and I seem to recall several of those pictures from your monthly quiz. :goodvibes
07-29-2009, 06:14 AM
What a great day, think its a shame that if they are going to open World Showcase at 11am they cant get their act together to really open it:confused3
I am booked to go to Tokyo Dining so glad it looks as gorgeous as it does, but we are going with the sole purpose of eating sushi so hopefully we will be ok. will report back when i return.
Thanks for posting:hug:
07-29-2009, 11:13 AM
Shame the dinner at Tokyo Dining didn't really deliver, but the boozing around the world sounded fun, it's something I look forward to every trip! The Orlando Ale House looks like it's worth investigating also!
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