Foodies of the Disney Parks, it’s time to connect.
The most recent additions to the Walt Disney World dining scene, Connections Cafe and Connections Eatery, have opened at Epcot as the latest in a series of park improvements.
Unlike its predecessor, Electric Umbrella, which Disney fans at the time of its closure considered a bit dated, this combination quick-service restaurant and cafe offers more than just burgers and fries. Epcot, which opened in 1982 and is known for its World Showcase, where 11 countries offer their finest cuisines to park visitors, now features more globally-inspired cuisine and atmosphere.
Brianna Pfost, an art director at Epcot who works for Walt Disney Imagineering, explains that this new location, which includes a Starbucks café and a full-service restaurant, fits into the larger narrative of the theme park. This narrative begins with four “neighbourhoods,” of which three are brand-new: Epcot’s World Nature, World Discovery, and World Celebration sections join the long-standing World Showcase, in which countries such as Mexico and Morocco are represented.
“We’re in the newly-opened neighbourhood of World Celebration, which is all about celebrating the things that people all over the world have in common,” Pfost tells Yahoo Life of Connections’ location in the park’s centre. “Of course, food plays a significant role in this, so we really wanted to embrace the concept of a global community.”
The centrepiece of the restaurant is a 160-foot mural titled Global Gathering that celebrates cultural traditions from all over the world in a single piece of art. Pfost explains, “It’s all about representing different cultures and food staples from around the world, as well as showing everyone coming together over a meal.”
At Connections Cafe, the location’s grab-and-go coffee shop, Starbucks favourites are served. Starbucks was relocated from the area formerly known as Future World to a temporary location in the World Showcase. Despite the presence of caramel macchiatos, the venue is not a typical coffee shop. A glass case containing coffee and teapots from around the world is displayed to the left of the expansive and contemporary counter, reminding guests that global food practises and cultural traditions are frequently more similar than they are dissimilar.
Pfost explains, “Our global cup display focuses solely on vessels for brewing and steeping coffee and tea because this is something that is so universally shared.” “We all want that little caffeine kick… we all have those little traditions — you have that favourite mug — we wanted to explore that and share how every culture has traditions that are unique to them, but how similar those vessels look.”
Together with Walt Disney Imagineering, the chefs at Epcot’s Connections Eatery created a menu that introduces guests to international ingredients and flavours.
An open kitchen allows guests to watch as chefs prepare everything from a classic fried chicken sandwich to a Belgian Liège-style waffle, which is made with brioche and sugar pearls. Epcot chef Scott Tosh says his team collaborated with Walt Disney World’s “flavour lab” to create a menu that would “connect guests with each other and with food from around the world.”