Review: Lunch at Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons is a beloved quick service lunch spot, and with cheerful decor and tons of menu options — including some healthier for you choices — it’s easy to see why.

Plus, it’s located in the Land Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World at Walt Disney World — and every WDW fan knows that’s the spot to ride Soarin’ and Living with the Land. So, you know, you’ll be there anyway. Why not score some good eats?

And good eats they’ve got! We’ve long celebrated the dessert case here, where you can snag such sweet beauties as the Strawberry Shortcake and the Mickey Oreo Cheesecake (which is as adorable as it is yummy). And now the Rose Gold Minnie Ears Cupcake, of course!

The savory options here are awesome, too, with some of the food growing right in the Land’s greenhouses showing up on the menus. One of the things we appreciate most about Sunshine Seasons is that the menu offers a lot of non-standard quick service items. Spicy Fish Tacos and Mongolian Beef are crowd pleasers, and guests with various food preferences and needs will find plenty of options here, too.

Epcot's Sunshine Seasons

Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons

It’s time to let the sun shine in!

Atmosphere

Sunshine Seasons can’t be missed — literally. It’s the center of the Land Pavilion and features soarin’ ceilings, bright swaths of fabric, and massive floating globes (in the spirit of hot air balloons). You’ll look down onto the seating area as you make your way down to the lower level (where you find entrances to those rides we mentioned).

Sunshine Seasons from Above

Sunshine Seasons from Above

If you’re looking for Garden Grill and its super fun character meal, that’s on the top level across from the pavilion’s entrance (you’ll look straight over the open area below).

But everything else you’re looking for is on the lower level. When you arrive on the lower level, you’ll enter Sunshine Seasons’ ordering area and be greeted by a large menu board. This will give you an overview of the various food stations — including Sandwiches, Asian Noodles, Soup & Salad, and The Grill (and let’s not forget The Bakery!).

Sunshine Seasons Menus -- click for larger image

Sunshine Seasons Menus — click for larger image

Each ordering area also features an illuminated menu board above the station. And you can see the prepared food and on-going food prep here as well. Trays are located beneath each station so you don’t have to juggle your cupcakes and your rotisserie chicken.

Sunshine Seasons Asian Cuisine Station

Sunshine Seasons Asian Cuisine Station

There are also grab-and-go stations and designated Kid Zones where the littles can grab their sides and drinks.

Bottled Drinks

Bottled Drinks

Kids Meals Beverages and Sides

Kids Meals Beverages and Sides

Across from the food stations is a long beverage area. You’ll select your beverage before heading to the check out.

Beverage Area

Beverage Area

But, y’all, don’t miss the dessert cases. We insist. Some are grab-and-go and some are behind the glass. There are winners in both locations, so peruse and choose.

Grab and Go Desserts

Grab and Go Desserts

Desserts!

Desserts!

If you’re looking for the Rose Gold Minnie Ears Cupcake, this is where you’ll find it. (We all want to look at her again, so…)

Rose Gold Ears Cupcake

Rose Gold Ears Cupcake

When you’ve made your selections, head to the check-out, where you’ll find a few more grab-and-go options as well.

Check-out

Check-out

You’ll pass utensils, napkins, and condiments on the way to the seating areas, each of which has sort of an amoebic shape and a low wall encircling it. These seating areas are best seen in their entirety from above. They’re packed with tables and chairs (with some booths along the wall). This is fairly extensive, and it’s typically not too difficult to find a table.

(Here’s a bit of trivia: the different sections are themed to different seasons, so check the table design to see which section you’re sitting in!)

Sunshine Seasons at The Land pavilion in Epcot

Sunshine Seasons at The Land pavilion in Epcot

During busy meal times, Sunshine Seasons will be hoppin’. It’s a fun and cheerful place to eat — so let’s dig in!

Eats

On this visit I ordered a Reuben. This classic sandwich featured layers of Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, and Russian Dressing. The fillings are grilled between great Crusty Bread.

Reuben Sandwich

Reuben Sandwich

This was so good. Satisfying and exactly what a Reuben should be. The cheese was melted, the corned beef deliciously salty, and the bread perfectly crisp. This is definitely a solid option for a diner who’s after classic eats. But note that this is pre-made, so unless you’re willing to wait a LONG time, you won’t be able to get one customized to your tastes.

Reuben

Reuben

Next up, I tried a guest favorite. The Slow-Roasted Pork was substantial. Covered in house-made BBQ sauce, it definitely made an impact on the plate.

Slow-Roasted Pork with BBQ Sauce

Slow-Roasted Pork with BBQ Sauce

The pork itself was delicious; tons of flavor. But that sauce? Holy vinegar, Batman! It was so strong, this was hard to get down. I don’t know if this was a bad batch or of this is the standard level of vinegar in the BBQ sauce, but it was way too much for my taste. It was all I could smell for about an hour after being there!

Slow-Roasted Pork with BBQ Sauce

Slow-Roasted Pork with BBQ Sauce

The sides for the Slow-Roasted Pork are sort of cafeteria-style: a big scoop of Mashed Potatoes (meh) and a piece of Corn on the Cob. But for a picky eater, these would be fine. But if you ARE a picky eater, or choosing a meal for such a person, get that BBQ sauce on the side.

Sides with Slow-Roasted Pork

Sides with Slow-Roasted Pork

So maybe we can’t say everything on the menu here is spectacular, but Sunshine Seasons is doing quick service just about as well as anywhere else in terms of selection and diversity of options. And we really appreciate that. Plus the desserts are not to be missed. I mean…

Flower Pot Cupcake

Flower Pot Cupcake

Nosh or Not?

Sunshine Seasons is for you if: 

  • You are looking for a quick service spot with tons of options.
  • You’re planning to spend some time in the Land Pavilion and want a convenient meal.
  • Desserts are an important part of your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plans.
  • You’re seeking vegetarian or healthier-for-you choices.

Get your sunshine somewhere else if: 

  • You want to enjoy some of Epcot’s fantastic table service options in World Showcase instead.
  • You don’t plan on spending much time in the Land Pavilion.
  • You prefer to eat somewhere with more standard theme park food.

Overall

Sunshine Seasons is a terrific place to grab a quick meal or a sweet treat during your Epcot visit. It’s super convenient if you’re already in the area, and the options are diverse and tasty (for the most part!). Plus, it’s really fun, bright, and relaxed — just as your vacation should be!

If you want to see why Sunshine Seasons is one of our favorite spots to grab Vegetarian or Vegan grub, check out our YouTube video!


Is Sunshine Seasons a must do for you? Let us know what you love in the comments below! 

News!! Rose Gold Ears Cupcake Has Arrived at Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons

Just in case you haven’t heard about the mayhem surrounding Rose Gold Minnie Mouse Ears in Disney Parks (on both coasts!), here’s the skinny…

Rose Gold Minnie Ears!

Rose Gold Minnie Ears!

The minute Rose Gold Minnie Ears hit Disney Parks merchandise locations, the shops could not — and still can not — keep them on the shelves! Folks spent time hovering online waiting for updates about their return and scarfing them up in numbers. You could say they’re kindofa BIG DEAL. [Read more…]

News and Review: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and Poutine Debut at Epcot’s Refreshment Port!

Le Cellier Cheddar Cheese Soup fans, rejoice! Now there’s a quick service option so you can get your fix without expending two signature Disney Dining Plan credits! Thanks to the Refreshment Port, Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup is now available (and snack credit eligible!).

Refreshment Port Menu

Refreshment Port Menu

[Read more…]

Review: Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner at Garden Grill in Epcot

Today, we’re sharing with you our latest visit to Garden Grill Restaurant for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner!

Garden Grill is basically one of my favorite character meals. First, it’s a character meal with really great interaction. And while Chip ‘n’ Dale are the headliners, here, you also get to hang out with Farmer Mickey and Pluto!

But beyond the characters, we enjoy the unique ambiance that Garden Grill offers. If you’ve never visited the restaurant, wait ’til you see what it does! Yes — DOES!

We’ve also had some pretty fantastic meals here. Breakfast is virtually a tradition for my family.

But today, we’re visiting in the evening. We’ve enjoyed past dinners here. Let’s see if the trend continues.

Atmosphere

Looking for Garden Grill Restaurant? Hang a right after Spaceship Earth and head toward The Land Pavilion in Future World West.

The Land Pavilion

The Land Pavilion

Walkways line the perimeter walls inside the building and lead you down to the pavilion’s three levels, which host The Circle of Life film on the right, and Living with the Land, Soarin’, and Sunshine Seasons (one of our favorite counter service spots) on the bottom. There’s also an elevator if you’d prefer it to walking.

The Land Ceiling

The Land Ceiling

You’ll find the Garden Grill directly across from the entrance.

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

And here’s where we talk about what Garden Grill does: it rotates. In fact, it’s the only restaurant in Orlando — and only one of a handful in the world — that spins.

Now, just in case the thought of a rotating restaurant doesn’t sound all that appetizing, we promise you that Garden Grill spins at a snail’s pace. We aren’t talking spinning teacups here.

Garden Grill Wide View

Garden Grill Wide View

Why does it spin? Well, there’s more than one way to check out the attractions within Living with the Land! As the restaurant rotates, guests are treated to scenes from the ride. This mural acts as sort of a gateway.

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

You’ll visit a farmhouse — or see it from above, anyway. I think this scene is particularly fun, because you get to look inside one of the windows from this vantage point!

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

You’ll also see extremes in landscapes. As you view a rainforest scene, and watch it morph into a desert scene as you travel.

Rainforest

Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill

The Desert

Your vehicle for sightseeing is your table, of course.

Tables are arranged in a sort of stadium seating pattern on two levels around the restaurant. Top tier tables are your garden variety rectangular tables, like you see here.

Table and Seating

Table and Seating

On the lower level, semi-circular booths face out, giving you the best view of the scenes you pass.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

And did you notice? Mickey makes an appearance before your meal ever starts! :-D

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

And that brings me to Reason Number Two that you might want to visit Garden Grill: the characters. Let’s check ‘em out.

Characters

One of my top reasons for visiting Garden Grill is the character interaction. In fact, it’s one of my Top Two Favorite Character Meals in Walt Disney World! Of course, I love when I can see Mickey during a character meet and greet. And here, he’s dressed in his farmer finest.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Mickey is joined by his faithful pup sidekick, Pluto.

Pluto

Pluto

But this is, after all, Chip ‘n’ Dale’s gig. So you’re sure to see the playful pair as you enjoy your dinner.

Chip

Chip

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

And that’s one of the coolest things about Garden Grill — it’s not just the stellar character interaction, but the amount of interaction you get. The restaurant is fairly small in size, so that means you normally have the chance to visit with characters more than once during your meal.

Eats

So we’ve talked about the fact that Garden Grill rotates, thus making it something kinda special. And, of course, any day that you can share your meal with Chip ‘n’ Dale and Friends is gonna be a good one.

But how about the food? Well, the good news is — that’s pretty great, too.

Garden Grill serves its meals family style, meaning that shareable platters are brought to the table, and you can ask for more of anything you like. That also means that everyone dining has the choice of a non-alcoholic beverage as part of the prix fixe price of his or her meal. But if you’d like, you can also order from a list of special drinks, including cocktails, mocktails, beer, and wine.

Special Drinks Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Special Drinks Menu — Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu — Click to Enlarge

You don’t really choose what you’re getting at Garden Grill (unless you have special dietary needs; talk to your server in that case). The offerings are pretty much standard. You’ll start with warm Dinner Rolls, served with a side of Whipped Butter.

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Next comes the Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad. During our visit, the salad included greens, hard boiled egg, radishes, and grape tomatoes. It’s lightly dressed with a creamy dressing.

Harvest-Inspired Farmer's Salad

Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad

The main course is the combination platter with sliced Homestyle Pot Roast, sliced Turkey Breast, and Italian Sausage served with sautéed Peppers and Onions. Sides on the platter include Mashed Potatoes and Bacon and Leek Stuffing.

The Italian Sausage is new, having replaced the previously served Sustainable Fish of the Day.

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

But that’s not all. You get additional veggie sides, like Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes, plus Macaroni and Cheese.

Platter of Sides -- Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

Platter of Sides — Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

For dessert, it’s a shareable Short Cake topped with Fruit Compote and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.

Short Cake

Short Cake

Some folks may call this a cobbler. Whatever name you give it, the rich cake and super saucy berry topping is a winner with everyone at the table.

Nosh or Not?

You’ll enjoy Garden Grill if:

  • You’re looking for a great character meal that combines great food, MICKEY, and more fun aspects
  • You have a nostalgic affinity for Epcot (Living with the Land!!!)
  • You’re touring Epcot with small children. The rest of the table service restaurants in Epcot can be ho hum for little kids.

You may want to skip Garden Grill if:

  • You’ve got a busy touring day and would rather stick to counter service
  • You’re in an adults-only party and nobody much cares about characters

Overall

After lots of visits, I still love Garden Grill Restaurant.

I think I’ve laid out a pretty convincing argument. When you visit Garden Grill, you’re getting a three-way combo of unique environment, great characters, and excellent (and plentiful) food. And when it comes to characters and kids, I personally lean toward a character meal where the food comes to you, because it’s so much easier to juggle kids, characters, and food when you don’t have to worry about visiting a buffet.

But even beyond the convenience of Garden Grill, the characters, and the novelty of the place, I think this place just offers really great food. It may be kind of standard fare, but it’s thoughtfully prepared. And when you’re paying Disney prices, it’s great when you can enjoy a character meal as much for the food as for everything else.

If you haven’t tried it before, book an advance dining reservation for Garden Grill Restaurant. I think you’ll be pleased.

Read Our Review of Garden Grill’s Breakfast Options Here!

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Is Garden Grill Restaurant one of your favorites? Let us know in comments!

News: Gluten Free Eats at the 2017 International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot!

Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival kicks off on August 31 with an epic and record-breaking number of food booths — 35 — representing cuisines and lifestyles from around the globe.

2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Banner

And as part of the Festival’s on-going commitment to providing awesome eats for guests of all kinds, many of the booths are featuring Gluten Free options! We expect to see lots of signage indicating the GF dishes. And of course cast members can also answer your food allergy questions.

[Read more…]

Review: New Giant Sundaes Debut at Taste Track in Epcot

What do you need after taking a speedy spin on everyone’s favorite design-your-own-vehicle attraction, Test Track? A snack, y’all! (FYI: Most questions can be answered with “a snack.”) And we’re thrilled to tell you that the Test Track-adjacent Taste Track beverage and snack kiosk is open — again — for business!

Taste Track Kiosk

Taste Track Kiosk

[Read more…]

Disney World “Just the New Stuff” Snack Crawl — Epcot Edition!

What? You’ve recovered from the DFB Grilled Cheese Crawl, and you’re ready for another one? We are right there with ya!

2017-2nd Edition DFB Guide + Snacks Covers

So today, we’re heading to the Mecca of Diverse Disney food options, Epcot!

There are literally hundreds of delicious dishes and tempting snacks to be savored throughout the park. And that makes sense, since World Showcase immerses you into the cultures of eleven different countries.

In one day, you can enjoy pastries from France, sushi from Japan, a jumbo pretzel from Germany, schoolbread from Norway — and so much more!

But then, there’s Future World, too. Home to great little kiosks featuring flavored popcorns as well as one of our favorite counter service spots, Sunshine Seasons, there’s plenty to enjoy there as well.

We all have our favorites, but it’s also fun to check out the NEW stuff! And so today, that’s what we’re doing. Let’s head into Epcot and arrange the day around trying brand new (or in some cases, returning items) in our DFB “Just the New Stuff” Crawl, Epcot Edition!

And if you love this crawl, be sure to check out our DFB Guide + Snacks Bundle, which you can enjoy for an unbelievable 30% off the already discounted price with code BUNDLE17 at DFBStore.com!

I hope you came hungry. Let’s go!

Cinnamon French Toast Bread Pudding, Sunshine Seasons

To kick our day off right, we should start with a good breakfast. Sure, you could grab a bowl of cereal at the resort or head to Starbucks for a muffin, but I say let’s check out Sunshine Seasons in The Land Pavilion for their Cinnamon French Toast Bread Pudding.

Cinnamon French Toast Bread Pudding at Sunshine Seasons

Cinnamon French Toast Bread Pudding at Sunshine Seasons

Is it breakfast, or is it dessert? Who cares? Because this is vacation, and you NEED to have this rich, delicious dish to jump start your day. (Oh, and to answer the question, clearly, this is breakfast. I mean, who eats bacon with dessert? ;-)  ) [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Electric Umbrella in Epcot’s Future World

WOO HOO!!! We’re back at the Electric Umbrella in Epcot’s Future World!

Too much? Okay — I get it. It can be hard to muster up a ton of enthusiasm for the ol’ Umbrella. That’s not so much because of anything specifically wrong with it, per se.

But when your neighbors include counter service options like Katsura Grill, Tangierine Cafe, and Sommerfest just to name a few…well, the more standard options available at Electric Umbrella can pale in comparison. Even if you pit it against fellow Future World counter service option Sunshine Seasons, it’s gonna seem ho-hum.

But we’ve got to give some credit where it’s due. Over the past few years, the menu at Electric Umbrella has seen more changes than many other spots. Some have been successful (French Dip Burger!), and some not so much (Mac and Cheese Burger). In other words, there’s been some innovation here. (You might even call it innovention. ;-) )

The Electric Umbrella

The Electric Umbrella

Since our last meal here, there have been even more menu updates. So clearly, it was time for another visit. [Read more…]

Our Favorite Epcot Restaurants

We are big fans of Epcot around here, just like you are. It may not be the original Disney World Park, but it holds a charm that few other spots in the Disney universe can. After all, walking around there feels like  you’ve stepped into the dreams of Walt Disney himself. It didn’t start life as the Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow for nothing!

Epcot!!!

Epcot!!!

The park has evolved a bit through the years, but we’re still enchanted by its dual personalities: Future World, celebrating technology and the promise of what’s to come; and World Showcase, which encourages visitors to embrace cultures from around the globe in order to learn from them. [Read more…]

Review: Chip N’ Dale’s NEW Harvest Feast Breakfast at Epcot’s Garden Grill

Are you ready to start your day with Chip & Dale (along with a few more Disney pals) at Epcot’s Garden Grill?!

That’s right! Garden Grill, Disney World’s only rotating restaurant, has been serving dinner only for a while now. But on November 8th, TWO new meals joined the lineup: Garden Grill now serves up breakfast AND lunch, in addition to dinner! (This, by the way, brings the total of Character Breakfasts in Epcot to two, with the Norway Pavilion’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall offering the other option with Princess Storybook Dining. Characters are now at both restaurants for every meal.)

The menu for the new lunch addition nearly duplicates that of Chip ’N’ Dale’s Harvest Feast for dinner. But breakfast is all-new, operating each day from 8:00 to 10:30 am.

We can’t wait to dig in! And we’ve got a few friends who would like to say “Good Morning” to you, too…

Chip

Chip

But let’s take a look around first. And, as always with the Garden Grill, I do mean AROUND… [Read more…]