Landscape of Flavors is an interesting restaurant in the “landscape” of Walt Disney World dining. When it first opened a few years ago, it was lauded, with tremendous praise heaped on it for raising the bar of “food court” dining at Walt Disney World, particularly at the Value Resorts, where other food courts (particularly at the All Stars) served food so suspect that it might require an asterisk next to food. Landscape of Flavors not only offered variety and customizability, but also some unique options on par with things you might find at The Mara or Pepper Market.
At the time, and at a Value Resort, this was fairly unprecedented. Pop Century across the bridge had a decent food court, but Landscape of Flavors rivaled the best counter service options (or even exceeded) at Deluxe Resorts. Since its opening, the other Value Resorts have been in the process of re-doing their food courts and expanding the menus, thus closing the gap a bit between Landscape of Flavors and “the rest” of the Value Resorts. Last year, we actually had a good meal at the End Zone Food Court at All Star Sports. ALL STAR SPORTS! A few years ago, if dared to eat at All Star Sports or like a sidewalk in Tomorrowland, I might have chosen the latter.
Suffice to say, Value Resort food quality is improving across the board, with Landscape of Flavors being the first and best example of the improvement. Many of these food courts are still not on par with nicer resorts at Walt Disney World, but it’s good to see improvement rather than regression.
As for our meals at Landscape of Flavors? Let’s dig in…
First, we could start with the ambiance. It would be sort of pointless to fixate on this. It’s a food court at a Disney Value Resort, and while there are some nice touches like a fluidity to the design, comfortable chairs, and the overall “newness” of Art of Animation (read: it doesn’t feel like you’ve stepped in a time machine and are dining in 1991), there really isn’t much to say. Landscape of Flavors has a cavernous seating area and is popular with families. That means it’s incredibly loud. We tend to take our food outside (where there are plenty of tables right outside the restaurant), to the pool seating area, or back to our room.
Now, as for the food. If you’ve ever dined at a Walt Disney World food court, you know the drill here. There are multiple ordering bays each serving a grouping of foods; you order and pickup your desired category of food from one of these bays, and then proceed to the register to pay.
As long as we’re discussing the bays right now, we might as well head-on address the huge weakness of Landscape of Flavors. I don’t know what the reason is for this, but every single time we’ve dined at Landscape of Flavors, at least one of us has had a long wait for our food. I don’t know if they’re off fishing in the pools of the Nemo section and gathering grains in the fields of the Lion King section of the resort or what, but, as my grandmother would say, “they are slower than molasses in January.” I really have no idea what this means (must be an older generation thing), but she says it whenever we’re at a restaurant where service is slow, so it’s probably apt here.
Normally, I don’t focus too much on service in these reviews because Walt Disney World restaurants are so inconsistent that adjacent tables in the same restaurant on the same night might have very different experiences, but the whole process at Landscape of Flavors seems consistently slow (especially during peak dining hours), so I feel it’s worth mentioning. On one occasion, when we were there for breakfast, they actually forgot(?) to start part of our order, and we had to just bail on the entire experience as we had to leave so we didn’t miss Disney’s Magical Express. This is definitely something worth keeping in mind if Landscape of Flavors seems busy and your family wants things from different ordering bays. Prepare to pay and eat separately, or eat together with the expectation that some of you will be eating cold food.
With that unpleasantness out of the way, the food at Landscape of Flavors is largely ambitious, and everything we have tried has been pretty good.
Let’s start by looking at our favorite station, which I believe is officially called “World of Flavors.” This is the Tandoori/Mongolian station. I can’t say enough good things about this station. You get a tandoori option, with naan bread, and two sides for around $10. In terms of out-of-pocket meal values, this has to be high on the list.
My favorite item here is the Mongolian Grill Fish. The menu indicates that this comes with rice and one side (and doesn’t mention naan bread or dipping sauce), but when I ordered this, they gave me two sides, naan bread, and dipping sauce (upon request). The fish actually was fairly sizable, wasn’t chewy, and wasn’t dry. I know it’s odd to focus on what it wasn’t, but we’re talking counter service fish at Walt Disney World here, even the best fish isn’t going to be on par with what you’d find at a table service restaurant. Grilled fish is not typically something you should roll the dice on at a counter service restaurant, but it was perfectly passable here, which is about the highest praise counter service fish can receive. The naan bread was good, and the sides were both excellent, with the spinach and paneer cheese being the highlight for me.
Sarah has opted for the Roasted Vegetable Plate here, and she was a big fan of this, considering it one of the best healthy options she has had at a Walt Disney World counter service restaurant (for that matter, I assume my fish plate was also pretty healthy…shoot, I should have ordered something else!). Next time, I want to try the Tandoori Boneless Chicken Thigh, which looks good, and like a tremendous value.
As a whole, this station really impresses us. Most of the options here are not simply heated up frozen food, as you can see them prepare the plates in the open kitchen here. We are big fans of tandoori, and plan to try the remaining options here on subsequent visits. If you’ve never heard of “tandoori” “naan” and the like, this may sound like food from Tatooine in Star Wars, but the flavors here are generally accessible. It’s tasty, but if you can get past the names, you’ll likely be rewarded with a delicious meal.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also make a stop at the burger station. I have a love-hate relationship with Walt Disney World burgers; I absolutely love burgers, but many Walt Disney World burgers fall woefully short. Even attempts to add gourmet burgers to the menus have been somewhat unsuccessful.
Here, rather than trying one of those interesting burgers (and there were a couple) or building my own, I decided to go for the Surf and Surf Burger, consisting of Crab Cake, Fried Popcorn Shrimp, Tomato, Lettuce, and Cajun Remoulade on a Brioche Bun. You can get this with fries, but I opted to order mine as the ‘entree only’ to save a couple bucks.
Much like ordering fish at a counter service restaurant, you’re rolling the dice ordering crab cake at a counter service restaurant. However, I was really pleased with this “burger.” The crab cake by itself wasn’t the meatiest or most mouthwatering crab cake I’ve ever had, but in burger form with the popcorn shrimp, cajun remoulade, and other toppings, it was delicious. The brioche bun was a really nice touch, and altogether this was a richly flavorful and even juicy option. I was impressed.
Here’s the Meatball Sandwich from the Pizza and Pasta bay, which was ordered by a friend with us on one occasion. He seemed fairly impressed by it. In looking at it, it does seem more ambitious than other meatball sandwiches at Walt Disney World. Although I’ve never tried this particular one, meatball sandwiches at Walt Disney World are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. This station also has the popular “Build Your Own Pasta” option.
In addition to the bays/stations covered here, of note there is also a Sandwich & Salad Station, with a variety of (pretty good looking) sandwiches, and the option to “Build Your Own Salad.”
Then there are options for sides and desserts, plus grab and go stuff in the coolers. We’ve had a couple of cupcakes and desserts here that weren’t particularly noteworthy, but the gelato and smoothies are worth mentioning.
I got the Mango Smoothie here, which was prepared with a mix of real fruit and mystery juice, and tasted really good. The downside was that the cup was very small and cost nearly $5 out of pocket.
Definitely not good value for the money, but if you have Disney Dining Plan snack credits to burn, it might be a decent option.
We were more impressed with the gelato. Not only are there a variety of flavors (some of which are pretty interesting), but the gelato tastes good, too.
We were impressed to see something like this over a simple soft serve machine.
Landscape of Flavors seems to have a lot of little nice touches like this that set it apart from other food courts.
Finally, here’s a wildcard breakfast item since we will probably not get to a breakfast review here anytime soon. This is the “Steak” and Eggs Breakfast Burger, consisting of an Angus Chuck Burger, Fried Egg, Pepper Jack Cheese, and Bacon. As far as Walt Disney Would counter service breakfast goes, it was really good, but I can see why there are air-quotes around steak, as it’s more or less a normal Disney burger. The good thing is that the fried egg compensated for the slight dryness of the burger. I wouldn’t recommend driving from the Grand Floridian some morning of your vacation to “rope drop” Landscape of Flavors to try this, but it’s a worthwhile/safe option if you’re planning on doing breakfast at Art of Animation, anyway.
Overall, Landscape of Flavors has something for everyone, and is a dramatic departure from the typical ‘pizza, burger, chicken nuggets, and fried stuff’ food courts that plagued the Value Resorts for years. The options that we’ve tried have pretty much all exceeded expectations, with the Tandoori Station being the real standout.We hope the guest response to the “exoticness” (it’s really not) of some of the options is positive so this trend continues at other restaurants. Slowness of the whole process is a definite complaint, but on the flip side, we’d probably be complaining if everything tasted like it had been sitting under a heat lamp, too. So long as you can eat here at an off-hour or don’t mind a bit of a wait, we highly recommend Landscape of Flavors, as the food here easily puts it amongst the best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World.