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April 9, 2008

Amusement at Disney World

Filed under: American Food,Fast food — Mr. Henry @ 6:30 pm

Bridey writes:

Well, it’s just so desperately chic to mock other people’s pleasures, isn’t it? I bet Mr. Henry would come home from Las Vegas with the shocking news that it’s gaudy and vulgar.

I’m not a Disneyphile by any stretch — I haven’t been to Disneyland in years and feel no pressing urge to go again. But geeze. If you don’t like it, don’t go.

From time to time Mr. Henry has been described as chic, but witnesses of his recent Disney World tour would surely testify against such an accusation. In his broad sunhat, anti-UV sunshirt (tail flapping), and slouchy lightweight trousers – all in clashing shades of greenish khaki – Mr. Henry looked like the youngest recruit of the AARP.

Bridey is partly justified in her objections to Mr. Henry’s anti-Disney screed. Of course, he went for the kids, not for himself, as raincoaster so aptly noted, and he freely admits that overall he had a pretty good time.

However, his feet were killing him, the sun was everywhere, and chairs were nowhere. Although he spent nearly a thousand dollars per day, he admits he had good fun watching Little Henry and posse invade the place. Despite the flow of coin cascading from his pockets and the plethora of eateries at every turn, however, he was hungry – desperately hungry, not desperately chic – and desperately trapped, to boot, deep inside the great Mouse kingdom.

At these prices, Mr. Henry doesn’t feel that to expect one decent meal is asking too much. It’s an amusement park, after all. When you are hungry, you are rarely amused.

Why can’t Mouse managers get with the new food program? Why must every food served be sweet and fried and carry the nutritional content of cotton candy? Is there something NOT FUN about eating fruits and vegetables? As a nation, haven’t we gotten past the notion of vegetables as things eaten only under duress?

In Animal Kingdom there are ersatz Indonesian eateries serving unpalatable foodlike substances. For the love of god, bring over some Singaporean street vendors! Even the Bengali and Yemeni halal food carts from the streets of Manhattan would be a huge improvement.

And to think that the original vision of EPCOT, the Experimental Prototypical City Of Tomorrow, included a vast plan for sustainable agriculture! A planned community in harmony with nature and with man! No, Uncle Walt certainly didn’t lack ambition. Mr. Henry has always admired the sheer scope and scale of the place. Only in America, by golly. The bean counters who inherited Disney’s great city of tomorrow betrayed his ideals and turned back the culinary clock.

Lest you suspect Mr. Henry’s peculiar brand of superciliousness and skepticism to be his own original invention, read H. L. Mencken in On Being an American:

To be happy one must be (a) well fed, unhounded by sordid cares, at ease in Zion, (b) full of a comfortable feeling of superiority to the masses of one’s fellow men, and (c) delicately and unceasingly amused according to one’s taste. It is my contention that, if this definition be accepted, there is no country in the world wherein a man constituted as I am – a man of my peculiar weakness, vanities, appetites, and aversions – can be so happy as he can be in the United Sates.


  1. “Although he spent nearly a thousand dollars per day” – indeed – for the privilege so seeing hordes of people gnawing on those roast turkey legs.

    And the darn things are what – maybe $10 apiece now? I recall they were $7 during our visit in ’00. For dark meat that no one will touch on Thanksgiving. And the profit must be easily 100%+ because the food cost to the park is less than pennies for something that would otherwise up as dog food.

    Comment by Phyllis — April 9, 2008 @ 8:25 pm

  2. I am a new reader and I have to admit, something of a Disney addict. However, I am also something of a food snob.

    Most of the fare at Disneyworld is fairly pedestrian, but I was able to enjoy a truly marvelous meal at Epcot. The Moroccan restaurant there was fabulous. It reminded me very much of trip to Morocco. Perhaps a native Moroccan might not agree with me, but I found it quite good.

    Comment by Pilgrim — April 10, 2008 @ 8:55 am

  3. I mentioned before being able to eat pretty well in the Parks, being that I worked there for five years. I abhor burgers and hot dogs and fries.

    I’ll try to take you through a mix sit-downs and counter service places. Plus, the Resorts are always close by and accessible. Plus its good to take a break some times. I think the families that cram it all into a 12+ hour day set them selves up to fail. These are only some highlights. I hope you read some guides before you went so you could have a little preparation and not just go into the parks blindly with out being able to server the needs of your family in the best way possible.

    There are a ton of places to take a seat.

    I will admit that Magic Kingdom is the hardest to get a good meal. Character breakfasts are good (usually buffet so you can pick and choose) but the Cinderella Breakfast is very heavy/filling. I’d grab a bagel or pastry from the bakery on main street for me. And grab some juice at the Dole stand in Adventureland. You can get a good meal at Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch or dinner. And for fast stuff, we always went to Pecos Bill Cafe (good fresh wrap sandwiches) or El Pirata Y El Perico to get a taco salad. They’ve since added the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station which sounds like it has some fresh and vegetarian options too.

    In the MK Resorts, there are so many great options. Our favorite was Artist Point in Wilderness Lodge which had amazing food flown in from the Pacific Northwest. Great wines, cedar plank salmon and buffalo steaks. And Narcoossee’s in Grand Florididian has great seafood. Plus Victoria’s & Albert’s there is 5 stars but for a major special occassion and adults only, really. Kona Cafe in the Polynesian is good for lunch and California Grill got top restaurant in Orlando several years in a row. Which is saying a lot because Orlando is a testing ground for restaurants.

    Epcot has options all over. Did you even go into The Land pavilion? The Sunshine Season Food Fair has a ton of different options much of which are grown right there (as is true for many of the Epcot restaurants) and are very healthy. The counter service and dinner at Morocco are great we would take most people there for dinner. The cold sesame vegetable noodles at the China counter service were good for a snack and Le Cellier in Canada is a great steakhouse with good lunch options. And the Teppanyaki Dining Room is one of the best versions of this type of restaurants I’ve eaten in.

    Epcot resorts (Beach Club, Boardwalk and Yacht Club plus Swan and Dolphin) – all have options with sandwiches etc. I personally love Spoodles. I’ve heard good things about Il Mulino New York Trattoria in the Swan and Fresh Mediterranean Market in the Dolphin. The Shula Steakhouse there received the critic’s choice for Orlando’s Best High-End Steak House and is seven-time recipient of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence (per the site). Todd English’s bluezoo is there too, although it wasn’t my favorite.

    Animal Kingdom we like to go to Tusker house for breakfast and get there breakfast hashbrowns. Then we would go to Rainforest Cafe which has a big menu or get something faster from Flame Tree Barbeque.

    Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge is great but we love love love Jiko.

    At MGM I always get the cobb salad at the Brown Derby. If you don’t want to do a sit-down, Studios Catering Co. Flatbread Grill is new and it has grilled chicken with healthier sides. Mama Melrose’s isn’t bad either for a basic italian meal.

    At Downtown Disney is the best meal deal in the whole Resort – the Earl of Sandwich. Sandwiches are around $5. House of Blues is also good for lunch and have a great Gospel brunch too. Wolfgang Puck’s is good for sit down and they have an Express section if the kids want a better version of a pizza.

    There’s a quick highlight. I’m sure I could come up with more. Next time you might want to read through a Disney guide to see what all the restaurants serve so you don’t get caught unawares.


    Comment by Poochie — April 12, 2008 @ 10:19 am

  4. Sorry about the typos I put this comment on the other entry too and fixed them there.

    You can search all the restaurants online but I think the guides give better descriptions –


    Comment by Poochie — April 12, 2008 @ 10:33 am

  5. my parents took me to disney several times as a kid, and my favorite part was the epcot pavillion where you take the boat ride through the hydroponic farm. it also had an animatronic cabaret of singing and dancing foods. looking back, it was more like an acid trip than an amusement park, but i loved it nonetheless. (suffice it to say, i was, and still am, a tremendous nerd)

    do they not have the hydroponic farming anymore? sad.

    Comment by michelle @ TNS — April 14, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

  6. Michelle

    They still have it. It’s my husband’s favorite attraction there. We’ve even gone on the Behind The Seeds tour. That ride you are talking about is called Living with the Land. It’s in the Land pavailion.


    Comment by Poochie — April 14, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

  7. Do you know, my parents went to Disney World every year for a decade, but they never took me or my sister. Seriously, I think we tied with orphans in the “weep for me” stakes. Are there casinos there? Is there like, an “adult” section of Epcot where the robots are kinky? We never found out.

    But I’m not bitter. I’ve still got my poetry…

    Comment by raincoaster — April 19, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

  8. Also: Mencken is an authentic American genius.

    However. There’s an alternate point of view:

    For most of the world, America is the great entertainment factory. The New Jerusalem envisionsed by the Puritans has turned out to be the world’s leading manufacturer of amusement and cheap thrills. The colonists and their descendants did indeed build them a shining city on a hill — but they called it Disneyland. In the Declaration of Independence they enshrined, along with life and liberty, the inalienable right to pursue happiness. But happiness is hard. Happiness takes work. Even worse, happiness is a long shot. So America settled for fun, perfected it, and sold it to an eager world. Pop music, Hollywood movies, the seductive sound of ice chattering in a silver cocktail shaker — they are the tangible, consumable expressions of the lofty principles in the Declaration of Independence,
    the free culture of a free people.

    William Grimes, in
    Straight Up or On the Rocks, The History of the American Cocktail

    Comment by raincoaster — April 19, 2008 @ 8:06 pm

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