When the new menu items were announced for the 2020 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, I decided to look at the pricing changes of consistent outdoor kitchen selections over the years. Like all Disney prices, almost every item gets a small increase annually. Some items, like the fried cauliflower at Taste of Marrakesh in the Morocco pavilion, had significant price hikes. Other items are just not a good value. Maybe they aren’t executed well, the portions are skimpy, or it just tastes like sadness. Additionally, I’ve always been curious about the value of the alcoholic beverages on offer. This thought process morphed into a TouringPlans science fair-like event without the volcano. Maybe next year.
Materials Used –
- EPCOT Flower and Garden menus, including food and beverage prices, from 2017 – 2020
- My notes from prior sampling
- Liquid measuring cup
- Giant red tray to carry multiple dishes at once. I have a picture of Chef Todd holding said tray. I’m willing to make that photograph into shirts, stickers, magnets, or fleece throws for the right price.
- Pens, paper, pink clipboard, antibacterial wipes, baggies, and color coded forks for the team.
Variables – Delayed outdoor kitchen openings!! My goal was to review every item that had made a prior appearance at the F&G festival and all of the new items, but it was not to be. The Honey Bee-stro, Florida Fresh, and La Isla Fresca were not open during our 11 hours in the park on opening day.
Also, the entire idea of value is variable. Some people walk into an EPCOT festival with no spending limit in mind and no plan except having a good time. Others have a very strict budget and firm idea of what they want to try. This is why I asked Chef Todd Santanello to help me with this analysis. We approach value in very different ways. Chef Todd has a working knowledge of the cost of each item and proper production. He often says he doesn’t care about the price as long as the dish is worthy. He enjoys good food prepared excellently whether it’s a simple hot dog or a $120 plate of Japanese A-5 Wagyu beef. I long for that level of zen, but I am still Po before he gets to the secret panda village and Chef Todd is Master Oogway.
Procedure – I was armed with an Excel spreadsheet listing every item offered at the outdoor kitchens this year and their prices since 2017 if they were a repeat. The TouringPlans team started in France and ate our way around World Showcase. It was truly a glorious and messy sight. Once each dish and drink were photographed many times and from several angles, I would conduct liquid measurements. Everyone would use their assigned fork color and we would begin the fun part. Next came the discussion, note taking, and clean up. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and so on.
Results- The following is a list of menu items we suggest you skip.
Choriqueso Torta: Bolillo roll filled with chorizo and Monterey jack cheese, avocado mousse, and jalapenos at Jardin de Fiestas at the Mexico Pavilion, $7.00
Chef Todd’s Take – The sloppy-joe-like chorizo filling was pretty good, but I couldn’t get past the horrible bread. Not at all like a traditional Mexican bolillo. Pass.
My View – I understand that there are practical reasons to change menu items, but if you’re going to sell me on the picture of the Holiday Sparkle Barbie with the giant red bow, don’t take my money and give a dollar store doll with a painted on bathing suit. That’s what I felt like with this dish.
Grilled Baby Vegetables with hummus cream and red pepper coulis at Flavor Full Kitchen, $4.75
Chef Todd’s Take -Adorable but bland grilled veggies. The hummus was even more flavorless. For hardcore vegans only…maybe not even then.
My View – I badly wanted to love this dish. It’s beautifully plated, it contains items I traditionally enjoy, and it sure makes for a pretty Instagram picture. See “tastes like sadness” above.
Crispy Citrus Chicken with orange aioli and baby greens from The Citrus Blossom, $5.75
Chef Todd’s Take – Oddly sized hunk of chicken was way over-fried. The mere thought of me complaining about a fried chicken dish borders on altering the very DNA that defines who I am, but I have to draw the line here. Cannot recommend. Just can’t.
My View – I get upset with myself when I over-cook dishes but it gave me a bit of a chuckle to watch a real Chef react to a dish that was this far gone. He truly was distraught at not enjoying this one and it was a hard skip for me as well.
This portion of my analysis isn’t an outright list of “don’t bother”, but is based simply on volume vs. value. Literally the only time I consume alcoholic beverages is 1) when Len sends to me to London that one time or 2) I am on day one of an EPCOT festival. Admittedly, I like my champagne pink and my beer dark and chewy but I can appreciate other frozen and frothy sips too. Again – this isn’t a drink review. I am more qualified to review that Star Trek land place in the Studios than I am drinks. Ok. Let’s go.
La Vie en Rose Frozen Slushy at Fleur de Lys in the France pavilion, $11.75
This adult beverage measured just over 8 fl oz and was delightful. So if paying approximately $1.44 per fluid ounce for the perfect Instagram photo that will also deliver a pleasantly fuzzy feeling, this is for you.
Beer Flight at Magnolia Terrace in The American Adventure, $9.50
Wild Heaven Beer Session Citrus Lager, Avondale Estates, GA
The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery Amber Ale, Farmville, NC
Parish Brewing Co. Ghost in the Machine Double IPA, Broussard, LA
Beer flights are wonderful to share and this trio came in at almost 12 fl oz. There is always some fluctuation in each pour, but this $9.50 set means you’ll be spending right at $0.79 per ounce and you’ll get to try 3 domestic brews you may not have even heard of. While this price is inflated when compared to what you can buy in your local grocery store, a full pint of beer will still cost you $10.00, or around $0.63 per ounce down the path at The Rose and Crown. Compared with other alcoholic beverages at the festival, this is not a horrible value.
Villa Sandi Prosecco at Primavera Kitchen in the Italy Pavilion, $10.00
This drink came in at a mere 3.75 fluid ounces and while it was tasty, one can’t help but have some sticker shock. Maybe it’s just me, but paying $2.67 an ounce for any type of beverage requires analysis. At the very least I’d have to already be intoxicated to order this again. According to the interwebs, a 750 ml (25.36 fluid ounces) bottle of Villa Sandi Prosecco can cost up to $21.00. The math on this means that two guests buying one glass of prosecco each are only consuming 7.50 ounces of liquid but could just about pay for an entire bottle for the same cash.
In summary, avoid the food listed in this post and, most importantly, math and alcohol should not be combined. It will fill you with regret before you’ve done anything worthy enough of that feeling.
Have you tried any of the items on our skip list? What did you think? Do you also find that calculating exactly how much you’re spending on every sip of alcohol makes you just want another drink? Let us know in the comments and thanks so much for reading!