For many years, we stayed at Pop Century regularly and became a bit…let’s just say “familiar” with the standard menu at Everything Pop. Pizza, burgers, hot dogs, with maybe a token interesting option or two thrown in. It was a quintessential example of stereotypical theme park food, and we avoided it like the plague–for fear it might give us the plague. On top of that, the seating area was often loud and unruly. Double bonus!
All things change with time, and Everything Pop most definitely has changed for the positive. While the seating area is still basic, open, and un-themed, it has been given a fresh coat of paint and a few stylistic upgrades have been made to push it forward. More importantly, the menu at Everything Pop had evolved, and taken many dramatic steps forward to the point that I felt compelled to give it another chance.
My main interest upon seeing the latest menu was the gourmet burger options, which are…really something else. I assume they are a key plot point in the forthcoming Cheech & Chong’s Adventure in HotelManagement, areboot to the classic stoner comedies (and you whippersnappers think Harold & Kumar are funny!). I really don’t know how else to explain some of these little gems than them being dreamt up after someone got ahold of some fine Maui-wowie.
Wanting firsthand thoughts on a few of them and not wanting to kill myself in the process by going it alone, I coaxed and cajoled some friends to join me at Everything Pop after we visited the ESPN Wide World of Sports. These burgers may target the stoner demographic, but nutritionists all agree* that they are also great for Walt Disney World Marathon pre-race meals!
There are 7 gourmet burgers (plus a normal burger) for a total of 8 burgers on the menu. At several counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World, this would be the entire menu, yet Pop Century has multiple other ordering bays, each with a robust slate of offerings, many of which are interesting. Aside from the burgers, there are a few other crazy choices, such as the “Paella” and “Vegetable Sandwich.” LOL, a sandwich with no meat on it? Nice joke, guys!
Suffice to say, the menu is far more ambitious than you’d expect. They’ve made rad new graphics with many of these menu items on them, so they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. That is, unless Disney has altered its policy about updating displays at the Value Resorts more than once every 15 years.
Turning to the burgers, I’ll admit that I was skeptical. Gourmet burgers are the trendy cuisine du jour in a lot of restaurants, and there’s a fine line between “ambitious” and “disgusting burger that was only made for shock value and should be consumed by one one ever.” In its past efforts, this is a line Disney has found itself on the losing side of, so I wasn’t totally sold here. On the plus side, the prospect of getting sick added an element of intrigue to running the Dopey Challenge!
Anyway, first up is the burger I tried, the Benedict Burger. I’m a total sucker for egg on a burger, and with vine-ripe tomato, lettuce, Canadian bacon, fried egg, and Hollandaise sauce on a brioche roll, about the only real “danger” here was that the fried egg was actually Disney’s typical powdered egg BS. Luckily, it was not.
The lone disappointment about the burger was that it was clearly Disney’s standard counter service beef patty, which leaves much to be desired. Every other ingredient was higher quality–from the brioche bun to the ham and sauce–that this just tasted out of place. Fortunately, the other ingredients helped mask the lower quality of the patty.
Next up is the Picnic Burger. A very similar version of this used to be served at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, and it was glorious. However, that restaurant was so overwhelmed with demand and booked solid at the 180-day mark that cooler heads prevailed, and the burger was removed from the menu. I believe this happened shortly after the infamous “Picnic Burger Stampede of ’11” during which one guest sprained an ankle and dozens of fanny packs were torn.
Noted Burgommelier Adam Burke summarized this national treasure in four poignant words: “‘Merica in your mouth.” To be sure, the taste of victory and freedom are sweet, and the tears of joy bottled from Bald Eagles (cried after they’ve eaten the Picnic Burger) are the secret ingredient that put this over the top. There’s a reason Ronald Reagan ate a Picnic Burger for breakfast everyday, and that’s because this burger is surprisingly awesome.
Or so I’m told. Everyone in our group who tried it liked it, and said they’d order it again. If there weren’t so many other burgers that I “need” to try at Everything Pop, this would be what I order on my next visit. (And there will be a next visit…I just wanted to get this up ASAP to alert you all to the presence of these must-try burgers.)
Note that while both of the burgers our group tried were universal hits, the jury is still out on the menu as a whole. Several other options look like they may not toe the “ambitious” v. “gimmick” line quite as well, as evidenced in easyWDW’s review of the Johnny Appleseed Burger. I’ll try each of them once because I’m a foolish blogger, but your stomach may not thank you if you take the same approach.
Not adopting the “stay hungry, stay foolish” philosophy of the rest of us (or wisely cognizant of the fact that she had a marathon to run and didn’t want to get sick), Jenny Burke ordered the Turkey Sandwich. With fresh mozzarella and a good helping of turkey, this looks like it’d rival some of the comparable sandwiches from Sunshine Seasons or Captain Cook’s. Definitely a safer bet than some of the outlandish burgers, which could be a good thing depending upon the burger.
One thing that has not changed at Everything Pop is some of the iconic desserts that have long been fan-favorites. I like the tie-dyed cheesecake, but there’s also the King’s Whoopie Pie (thanks to Laura in the comments who shared this photo of the pie), and Everything Pop Sundae. Anyone one of these choices would make Jerry Garcia proud.
Overall, Everything Pop is exponentially better than it once was–to the point that I’m actually looking forward to eating here again. Someone put serious effort into turning this place around, and the effort deserves some recognition. Not everything on this “interesting” menu is going to appeal to everyone, which is the nature of the beast. However, the next time someone tells me Walt Disney World food is going downhill, I’m showing them this menu and the one from about a decade ago when we first stayed at Pop Century. In terms of ambition alone, the improvements are staggering. I can only assume the recent improvements at other food courts are a result of Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation, and the ambitious menu there. It must(?) be a success if other spots are following its lead. Regardless of the cause, these gains are much appreciated.
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Have you tried the new menu at Everything Pop? Any favorites? Anything make you sick? Considering trying this spot? Any other thoughts or questions? Share below in the comments!