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.