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In Disney

First Look: Connections Café and Connections Eatery Open at EPCOT

Connections Cafe and Eatery in EPCOT's Future World (can we still just call it that??) officially opened its doors a week or so ago and I was able to grab a meal there with a good friend one afternoon. And while I’d never fully review a restaurant this new this early on, I did want to share my first impressions!

Before I dive into the food itself, I want to preface this by saying that there are two categories of restaurant at Disney in my mind and I review them accordingly:

  1. foodie spots that I’d go to even if they weren’t at Disney, where the only thing particularly “Disney” about them is the level of service – these are places that I’d often put up against anywhere I’ve eaten in a city like New York and include restaurants like Victoria & Albert, Topolino, Toledo, Boathouse, Wine Bar George, Takumi Tei, Bluezoo, and Homecomin’, and
  2. spots that you visit more because you’re at Disney – these are places that might have more of what’s commonly thought of as “park food” and that you typically visit either
    1. because they’re easy and convenient (think Sunshine Seasons – the food is good enough but I’m not there for the fine dining experience) or
    2. because they are a part of a themed or otherwise fun or special experience (think Whispering Canyon or Sci Fi – the food is good but I’m really there for the overall experience, not just the menu).

There’s a TON of overlap, of course. Spots as different as Satu'li Canteen and breakfast at Topolino check both boxes. We can argue about whether spots like Hoop Dee Doo are a full on 2(b) or also a 1. But Connections Eatery effectively replaces the old Electric Umbrella in EPCOT. And like Electric Umbrella, it’s firmly in the 2(a) category.

Spots like these are JUST as important as fine dining spots at Disney. Sometimes you want a Michelin star meal – but when you’re visiting here from out of town and everything is new and different and overwhelming, sometimes a wide open, clean, comfortable space with a phone charger and killer chicken nuggets is just what the doctor ordered.

So when I’m looking at a 2(a), I’m really asking two questions:

  1. Is it convenient? 
  2. Are there decent options for foodies AND picky eaters? I.e., can I go there and get myself a decent meal AND something for the kids even if they aren’t feeling adventurous?

And on these two fronts, Connections Eatery looks like it’s going to hit it out of the park.

Convenience

For starters, not only does Connections Eatery have a good set of food options, it also shares a space with Connections Cafe, which is the new permanent setting for Starbucks at EPCOT. So unlike the old Electric Umbrella, you can feed yourself and/or your family and grab a familiar caffeine fix – all while gathering around the same table.

The space feels huge and spacious. You aren’t on top of other people. The lighting is bright and bolstered by wall to wall windows along the outer perimeter. The music is decidedly Future World. There are lots of different seating options. There’s even an area with raised seating and wireless phone chargers running the length of the center of the bar/table space.

The walls are covered with colorful murals and fun touches, like rolling pins as decor.

And last but most definitely not least, the bathrooms (or at least the ladies room…) are spacious and clean and have an entirely separate ROOM for changing tables – each of which are planned down to the detail of having a roll of toilet paper hanging at arms’ reach. Whoever thought of this deserves a raise.

Food Options

The menu, in line with the rest of EPCOT, is a nod to many different cultures' cuisines – but is served up in a way that's not likely to be intimidating to pickier palates. There's a long list of burgers and other sandwiches, several flatbread pizzas, salads, milkshakes, cocktails…and a waffle. There were only two of us so we tried to zero in on sampling something from each section of the menu.

We ended up with the Banh Mi Burger, General Tso Chicken Salad, plant-based Curry Spice Pizza, Liege Waffle, and Mango-Coconut Milk Shake. (Don't judge. It was RESEARCH.)

First Up: The Banh Mi burger. This is described as a miso-marinated gourmet beef blend burger with pickled vegetables and Sriracha mayonnaise on a soft sub roll. We chose the mediterranean side salad as our side dish.

This burger (unlike the others we saw being served) is cut in half and placed on a longer sub roll. Truth told, I was a little surprised this wasn’t a plant-based option since it seems like just the sort of thing that Disney would typically serve up with an Impossible(r) patty. That said, this was a good burger. The pickled vegetables had a nice vinegar to them and the Sriracha mayo gave it a little kick. The roll was definitely a little dry and more bready than it needed to be. I’d love to see them switch to a crusty roll that really does the rest of the sandwich justice. That said, this was a solid option and I’m looking forward to trying the other burgers on the menu.

The General Tso Chicken Salad is petite kale blend with broccoli slaw, red bell pepper, mandarin oranges, edamame, crispy wontons, warm fried chicken, and General Tso's dressing. The chicken was good quality meat, the dressing had a nice sesame and ginger kick, and the edamame were a nice little touch. It had a little spice but only enough to bother the most sensitive palate. I’m sure I’ll get this again.

The Plant-Based Curry Spiced Pizza is tikka masala, carrots, potatos, peas, tomatos, plant-based mozzarella, and lime “yogurt”, served also with a Mediterranean side salad. I’m a HUGE fan of tikka masala and this was…fine. Not much tikka masala flavor but if you need something plant-based and savory, it’s not terrible. There’s just not much to it and, knowing how incredible the plant-based options at Disney tend to be lately, I was a little disappointed.

The Liege Waffle is brioche dough with pearl sugar, strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce and is the thing to get here. The waffle is perfect. The whipped cream tastes like REAL whipped cream. But the best thing about it is that is has this wonderful crème brûlée sort of crunch and caramelized richness. I assume it’s something to do with the pearl sugar? Whatever it is, it’s wonderful and I want it again right now.

And last but not least is the Mango-Coconut Milk Shake, topped with pomegranate-molasses drizzle. The shake itself was tasty. If you’ve ever had a mango lassi, at an India Booth in World Showcase or elsewhere, it has that sort of vibe. The pomegranate-molasses drizzle is good and makes it interesting but is very tart on its own, so give it a good stir into the rest of the drink before you go at it with your straw.

And there you have it!! All in all, this is a win for me – especially when thinking of what it’s replacing in the park.

Huge thanks to my dear friend Theresa for taking on this menu with me. Disney friends are the best kind.

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You can find my complete guide to making the most of your runDisney race weekend RIGHT HERE and my guide to running trails on Disney World property RIGHT HERE.

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If you’re missing home (or love someone who is) and are looking for a way to bring the magic home, I’d love for you to check out my Core Memory Candle collection right HERE. And as always, stay safe and be kind, my friends.

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