Within the final 15 years or so, the Walt Disney World restaurant at which we’ve dined essentially the most is Sunshine Seasons. That’s doubly spectacular provided that it’s in EPCOT, a park with perpetual festivals and higher culinary scene than Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom.
We might go on and on about what made Sunshine Seasons so particular throughout its heyday. A number of ordering bays with distinctive and different delicacies, entrees that included Candy & Bitter Hen, Sluggish Roasted Pork Chops, Lamb Skewers, Sesame Crusted Tuna–the record goes on and on. Then there was its formidable choice scrumptious desserts–arguably the very best bakery in EPCOT, a park that additionally contains the France, Norway, and Germany pavilions.
There have been a lot of dishes and desserts that had been nice values for cash when paying out of pocket or utilizing Disney Eating Plan credit. The meals was enjoyable and considerate, which dishes both impressed by the greenhouses within the Land pavilion or really utilizing their contemporary and flavorful bounties. There was a purpose Sunshine Seasons routinely was #1 on our Listing of the High 10 Counter Service Eating places at Walt Disney World. There was additionally a purpose it fell off the record utterly a pair years in the past.
Fortunately, the studies of Sunshine Seasons’ demise are enormously exaggerated. After a very darkish period in 2018 by means of 2021, the restaurant has bounced again in a giant method. It improved incrementally final 12 months and has gotten even higher as of Christmas 2023. To the purpose the place it’s as soon as once more our #1 counter service restaurant in EPCOT.
We’ll get to the why of that with particular person dish critiques, however first want to begin with an essential caveat. If you happen to’re a longtime Walt Disney World fan and Sunshine Seasons was a go-to for you within the aughts and 2010s, it’s nonetheless a shadow of its former self. I’d say the entree menu is about 80% of what it as soon as was, which is fairly good, proper?
The dessert case is the place the large concern lies. The factor that used to make Sunshine Seasons such a satisfying meal (for me not less than) was ordering an ostensibly wholesome entree (however most likely not, who is aware of how a lot butter Disney is placing in even the “wholesome” stuff!) after which following that up with not one, however two desserts, utterly guilt-free!
You may’t try this now. The dessert case at Sunshine Seasons is roughly 25% of what it as soon as was in the course of the peak of its reputation. This isn’t me trying by means of the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia or misremembering, both. I’ve the “receipts,” each actually and figuratively, and my pictures of the dessert case from 2007-2014 look very completely different than at the moment. Each row was crammed, with minimal spacing between dishes.
The opposite massive drawback with Sunshine Seasons is its considerably shorter hours. This began pre-pandemic, even when the one various within the former Future World was Electrical Umbrella, the predecessor to Connections Cafe & Eatery. That was notably irritating as a result of there didn’t appear to be any rhyme or purpose to the schedule–some or all stations would merely shut.
Now it’s arguably higher (or arguably worse) since all the scorching meals stations shut at 4 pm. The upside is that it’s predictable. Go for lunch, and Sunshine Seasons is absolutely operational. Arrive for dinner, except you could have tremendous early chook supper standing, and it’s simply the seize and go stuff.
The reason for that strategy can be extra smart. Connections Cafe & Eatery is now open and widespread, and the Land pavilion isn’t as widespread because it as soon as was. Soarin’ was the large new trip in EPCOT, however now Frozen Ever After, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Remy’s Ratatouille Journey, and even Check Monitor have handed it in reputation. The Land pavilion is often a ghost city after 3 pm. As a lot as I’d hate to confess it, the shorter hours make sense.
Anyway, with that context and caveats out of the way in which, let’s flip to what’s good on the menu at this recently-redeemed restaurant…
Let’s begin with the Roast Beef Sandwich: Chilled Roast Beef, Chimichurri Aïoli, Cheddar, Arugula, and Purple Onion on a Flour-topped Kaiser Roll served with Potato Chips.
This appears easy, and also you would possibly assume that sandwiches are low-hanging fruit or beef. Truthful sufficient. Nevertheless, I’m a staunch sandwich supporter, and might let you know there was a time when somebody at Walt Disney World should’ve mandated that each one sandwiches use the dryest bread, tasteless (however flavored!) sauces, and lowest-quality meats attainable. It was a darkish time for my individuals.
That has rotated significantly in in regards to the final 12 months or so, and the Roast Beef Sandwich at Sunshine Seasons is an exemplar of that development.
This is top quality roast beef, a meat that’s already dearer than turkey or ham (I do grocery buying!), akin to Boar’s Head. Regardless of being a floured kaiser roll, the bread just isn’t dry. The arugula and onion are implausible additions for taste and texture. Then there’s that Chimichurri Aïoli–wow–addictively good things. (I’d suggest ordering additional dressing.)
Talking of suggestions, my go-to previously was ordering the sandwiches at Sunshine Seasons by themselves, after which going over to the far station for a aspect of mashed potatoes. I didn’t attempt that this time, however assume it’s nonetheless allowed. That’s the much better choice than the macaroni salad, which is middling.
For these questioning the place different superior sandwiches might be discovered at Walt Disney World, all the monorail loop resorts have seen current upgrades. Similar goes for the Crescent Lake resorts. There are some surprisingly robust choices in any respect of those counter service spots.
Subsequent up is the Mongolian Beef with Vegetable Fried Rice.
That is takeout caliber meals–I’m undecided whether or not that’s reward or not, however it’s what it’s. The standard and preparation listed here are on-point, and precisely what you’d count on. It’s tasty and doesn’t disappoint in any method. I don’t know what else to say–this isn’t my favourite kind of dish within the first place, however I feel that is pretty properly finished. (Sarah additionally likes it, however far prefers the Vegetable Korma–that’s her go-to dish at Sunshine Seasons.)
The Pepperoni Pizza Roll is one other “what you see is what you get” kinda choice.
The best reward that I can provide that is that the preparation hits all the proper notes. The roll has the appropriate texture and consistency, with an exterior little bit of crunch however doughiness inside–not too laborious, too tender, or too chewy.
High quality-wise, the pizza rolls are kind of what you’d count on. Let’s be actual–that is mall meals court docket caliber, and isn’t something it’s best to exit of your option to order except you’re craving pizza. It’s good for what it’s, however nothing particular.
With that stated, Sunshine Seasons was previously residence to the second-worst pizza in all of Walt Disney World. The “deep dish” squares they served had been unbelievably unhealthy, in some way worse than PizzeRizzo and Pizzafari. That is method higher than that.
Subsequent up, the Birria Tacos with Beef, Monterrey Jack, Onions, Cilantro, and Lime served with Consommé.
I used to be ready for this to be a prepare wreck. San Fransokyo Sq. in DCA is residence to a few of the greatest birria tacos I’ve ever had–nice even by actual world Southern California requirements. Implausible as they’re, I can’t think about they’d be a success with Walt Disney World visitors (completely different demographics and all that).
These undoubtedly aren’t that good. Anybody from areas of the nation the place nice avenue tacos are ample will seemingly be disenchanted. However in the event you’re ordering these with an open thoughts and with out regional bias, the Birria Tacos are surprisingly good.
Though very delicate, they’re tasty. The combo of components provides a nuanced taste profile and makes for a scrumptious dish. The standard just isn’t top-tier, nevertheless it’s ok. My solely actual grievance is that this dish is small and doesn’t include a aspect. It’s additionally actually low cost, making this a great choice “for the desk” to attempt along with different entrees.
For our last entree, we’ve the Oak-grilled Salmon served with Mashed Potatoes and Ratatouille.
The grill space of Sunshine Seasons has at all times been the standout and its saving grace even in the course of the darkest of occasions (besides when it wasn’t open–which was too usually). We’re not going to assessment it at the moment, however the Oak-grilled Rotisserie Hen remains to be superior based on Sarah. (I assume she’s appropriate as a result of why wouldn’t it’s, however wasn’t there to verify the final time she tried it.)
This space can be the station that was residence to a few of the all-star limited-time dishes at Sunshine Seasons over time, and I actually hope a few of these return. Now that meat costs are beginning to come again to actuality, possibly further choices shall be added? We are able to hope!
Salmon is a type of entrees that Walt Disney World does exceptionally, however this dish has no proper to be pretty much as good as it’s. The fish is a large fillet, and completely ready–crispy pores and skin, flaky items, moist inside, and fantastic taste. The oak grilling actually makes a distinction!
Though it’s not on par with Signature Eating places, it’s shockingly spectacular and unexpectedly flavorful. I’d undoubtedly put it forward of the also-great salmon at Columbia Harbour Home, and that is additionally barely cheaper. (It actually amazes me that each counter service spots serve salmon for beneath $15.)
This salmon would’ve been implausible by itself, however the ratatouille and a beneficiant portion of these mashed potatoes elevate it to the subsequent stage. I’m a sucker for Walt Disney World mashed potatoes–I do know they’re not objectively nice, however they’re a responsible pleasure that I’ve loved for eons. They’re my favourite mashed potatoes anyplace as a result of they remind me of nice trip reminiscences. Foolish because it sounds, isn’t that what it’s all about?
In any case, the Oak-grilled Salmon is an absolute must-order dish.
It’s value noting that these aren’t the one dishes which might be standouts at Sunshine Seasons.
The stir fry (hen or shrimp) plus the aforementioned Vegetable Korma are additionally superb to nice. The Asian Noodle Salad with Tuna has modified barely since we final had it, however that was at all times a winner. The Mediterranean Vegetable Sandwich sounds and appears good, however actually, I can’t think about selecting that over the wonderful Roast Beef Sandwich. (That vegetable one could be a ‘Sarah Particular.’ Ditto the Energy Salad.)
Suffice to say, there are a selection of excellent issues on the menu at Sunshine Seasons once more. Lastly.
Oh, and with regards to dessert, the Peanut Butter Whoopie Pie is definitely fairly good!
I’m not going to overdo singing its praises, however I used to be pleasantly shocked.
I sometimes favor any such dessert to be on the denser aspect, so my take is that the chocolate ‘sandwiches’ right here skewed a bit an excessive amount of in direction of a cake-like consistency (I’d’ve most popular brownie density).
Nonetheless, it’s harking back to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Good, wealthy taste with candy and savory qualities. There are a variety of nice desserts throughout EPCOT, so I’m not giving this an enthusiastic advice in gentle of that, however in the event you actually need a dessert to complete your meal, you gained’t go mistaken with this.
Finally, this story of “restaurant redemption” for Sunshine Seasons would possibly sound pretty unimpressive in the event you keep in mind what Sunshine Seasons was like a decade in the past. Simply understand that’s not the place it stood extra just lately. Even pre-pandemic, Sunshine Seasons had gone downhill, which I assume was a matter of the brand new trip odor sporting off Soarin.
With many different points of interest opening on the opposite sides of EPCOT, it nearly defies the chances that Sunshine Seasons has gotten higher. That’s doubly true with the opening of Connections Cafe & Eatery, which has turn into a magnet on the opposite aspect of the entrance of EPCOT (why can’t we simply name it Future World?!).
To that time, we’d strongly suggest contemplating Sunshine Seasons as an alternative choice to Connections for lunch. Though the latter remains to be higher than its predecessor, the menu has already been simplified and the counter service spot is totally bonkers in the course of the noon rush.
Sunshine Seasons now has higher delicacies and is much less chaotic. Positive, you may need to stroll just a little farther in the event you’re simply ending up Cosmic Rewind or Check Monitor, nevertheless it’s not that far. Additionally, navigating throughout former Future World ought to be quite a bit simpler as quickly because the Big EPCOT Grime Pit is a factor of the previous!
With that stated, we nonetheless would implore you to deal with any of the counter service spots in EPCOT as a spot for ‘stomach-filler’ so that you don’t overspend at pageant kiosks. At most, do lunch right here as a basis earlier than bouncing to World Showcase, after which snacking your method round these cubicles and bakeries.
Regardless that Sunshine Seasons has improved significantly within the final 12 months or so and is now the very best counter service restaurant in EPCOT, there are nonetheless higher choices throughout all eating classes. The culinary expertise is integral to EPCOT, and we’d strongly suggest snacking and a desk service meal if time permits.
I’ll finish this with a maybe unrealistically optimistic observe. After seeing the surge in reputation of Connections as in comparison with Electrical Umbrella, I’m hopeful that the identical will occur with Sunshine Seasons. With the return of the Disney Eating Plan, I feel Walt Disney World shall be incentivized so as to add extra desserts. That alone could be an enormous enchancment.
Past that, I feel there’s long-term potential for a Sunshine Seasons comeback story. Moana’s Journey of Water has began to reinvigorate this aspect of the park, and that’s only a comparatively small scale walk-through. Think about if Walt Disney World lastly did the appropriate factor and reimagined Journey into Creativeness?! I can’t even think about how busy this aspect of EPCOT could be. (Maybe the return of the ‘actual’ Figment might assist with my failure of creativeness on that?!)
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Have you ever dined at Sunshine Seasons within the final 12 months or so? What did you consider the meal? If you happen to’ve dined there beforehand (within the final ~5 years), do you assume it has improved? If you happen to dined at Sunshine Seasons a couple of decade in the past, how do you assume the present menu stacks up? Agree or disagree with our assessment and restaurant redemption story? Any questions we may also help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even whenever you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!