Sunshine Season’s Restaurant Review
Table Service Cuisine disguised as Counter Service
In a park like Epcot where dining options are prolific there seems to be a great divide (for my family anyway). The physical representation of that divide is the bridge leading from Future World to the World Showcase. For us there are many delicious options in the World Showcase, but we find the Future World selections to be lacking. We’ve done Coral Reef and have never been overly impressed. Garden Grill was ok. I would rather go hungry than eat at the Electric Umbrella. The one shining star in Future World is Sunshine Seasons. This unassuming food court in the Land pavilion offers up a great selection of fresh entrees reminiscent of a table service eatery at (Disney) counter service prices and convenience.
Anyone entering the Land to ride Soarin’ (and what visitor to Epcot doesn’t?) can’t help but see this massive location. The seating for the restaurant fills the downstairs of the pavilion, and the preparation, ordering and serving counters fill the pavilion with the sounds and smells of breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the location in Epcot for a hot counter service breakfast.
You’re experience begins with the theming. True to the name Sunshine Seasons, the eating area of the food court is themed to all four seasons. Four hot air balloons with motifs of each season float above diners, suspended from the skylight ceiling of the pavilion (hence the sunshine part of the name). The seating areas are divided into four rooms using undulating curved half walls to separate them. Each area represents a different season with the theme portrayed in the carpet, the upholstery and the tops of the tables.
I am sure the theme goes overlooked by many hungry vacationers in search of grub. There is plenty to be found here with several different windows each specializing in a certain type of food: the Bakery, Soups & Salads, Sandwiches, Asian, and the Oak Fired Grill. Complementing these freshly made options are several grab and go coolers with fruit, ready-made salads, and desserts. There is a special display of foods for anymore with food allergies or other dietary concerns. Beverages are served out of a self-service fountain (and I have never been stopped from getting a refill), or you may select a bottled drink from the coolers (including alcohol).
On our most recent trip we went to Sunshine Seasons for dinner. My 10-year-old son and I selected the kids’ Pizza Panini ($5.99 plus tax, or a child Counter Service Dining Credit) at the sandwich counter. The very helpful cast member there offered an adult portion of two wedges, but after a large lunch I stuck with the single wedge that was the child’s portion–plus I wanted dessert! This isn’t really a Panini the way I think of one, but is served on herbed focaccia bread with melted mozzarella cheese. Marinara sauce is served on the side for dipping. I have to tell you this may be my new favorite. The bread was fresh and the overall combination had a great flavor. As a kids meal it was a great value for me, and for my son. My 14-year-old self-proclaimed sandwich guru selected the Turkey and Monterey Jack on Ciabatta sandwich ($8.99 plus tax, or an adult Counter Service Dining Credit) which was served with chipotle mayonnaise and a side (he chose chips). He thought it was very good and will order it again. My husband had his usually favorite the Slow Roasted Pork Chop with mashed potatoes and a tomato based sauce ($12.49 plus tax or an adult Counter Service Dining Credit). While he enjoyed the flavor and preparation of the pork he said it was difficult to cut with the plastic cutlery–perhaps they should go to the Be Our Guest model of real forks and knives. The mashed potatoes were particularly good. This is where Sunshine Seasons goes above and beyond most counter service restaurants–the variety and quality of the true entrees available. This is not just another burgers and fries place.
For dessert I had a popular choice: Strawberry Shortcake ($3.99 plus tax, or a snack credit on the Dining Plan). Prepared in the bakery this dessert is perfect for a hot summer day. It is a layered strawberry shortcake, nice and light with both the cake and the whipped cream. I did share with others and we all enjoyed this end to our meal.
I highly recommend Sunshine Seasons if you find yourself in Future World in need of a bite to eat. I would even say it a might equal or surpass some World Showcase eateries.
Food: Great variety, well prepared and fresh. There are a lot of options here that you are not going to find at any other counter service restaurant.
Atmosphere: It is a little noisy due to the open seating and the fact that it is open to one of the two most popular attractions in Epcot. The theming is subtle, but if you look around you will take note of many nods to the four seasons and sunshine.
Staff: For a food court they were very helpful, especially the cast member at the sandwich counter in our experience. The cashiers were very friendly as well, and other cast members were doing a good job keeping the area clean and tables cleaned off while remaining out of diners’ way.
Tips: As with any counter service restaurant go at non-peak eating times to avoid long lines. This restaurant has a large capacity so it can handle a crowd, but lots of folks find themselves here for a meal after waiting in line for Soarin’. The Disney Dining Plan is accepted here and this is a great counter service restaurant to get a lot of bang for your DDP buck.