Connections Cafe & Eatery is a new counter service restaurant opening soon in Epcot at Walt Disney World. This post will share a sneak peek at the menu of this quick-service dining spot in World Showcase, plus some commentary about how it should stack up to its predecessor, Electric Umbrella.
According to Walt Disney World, what makes Connections Cafe & Eatery unique is it gets its inspiration from the delicious cuisines from across the globe. I’m not so sure this is accurate. First, because World Showcase exists in this same park, so global cuisine isn’t exactly novel here. Second, because it’s not really global cuisine. (A burger by any other name still tastes like meat.)
As part of World Celebration, where Walt Disney World “embraces coming together and enjoying the magic of possibility,” the purpose of Connections Eatery is to “show us how food has the power to bring us together if we open our minds” and our stomachs. Again, this according to Disney. I have some different thoughts on all of that…
Inside Connections Cafe & Eatery, guests will be able to catch a glimpse of the chefs in action, watching desserts get their finishing touches and witnessing pizza makers work their magic crafting pizza dough. The partial show kitchen will definitely be a change of pace from Electric Umbrella–that should help give this counter service restaurant some life and energy.
Now let’s turn to what you’ll be able to eat once Connections Cafe & Eatery opens. Judging by the current construction status, that should only be a few more weeks away, at most.
Without further ado, here is a preview of the menu at Connections Cafe & Eatery…
Let’s start with the French Bistro Burger with Caramelized Onion, Bacon, Brie, Mushrooms and Dijon Mayonnaise.
This actually reminds me a bit of an underrated Electric Umbrella entree, the French Dip Burger. It existed for at least a few years (maybe around 2015 to 2018–not going to dig into the archives to figure it out) and was surprisingly delicious. This is different, but could be a similarly good twist on traditional theme park fare.
Continuing along, we have the Southwestern Burger featuring a roasted chipotle-corn salsa and guacamole spread.
This could be good, if it actually looks like that (it won’t) and has high-quality guacamole (also not gonna happen). More likely, it’ll be a bit of Southwestern toppings feebly attempting to mask a subpar hamburger patty.
Next, the Vietnamese-inspired Banh Mi Burger.
Disney can actually do Banh Mi really well. My prediction is that this becomes a sleeper hit of the menu, and is more ambitious and tastier than the average burger. Hopefully will be a rewarding sandwich for those who go the more “adventurous” route.
Connections Cafe & Eatery’s final burger is the Greek-inspired Mediterranean Burger.
This one also looks ambitious and different, and it has my attention. I could see this going either way–a refreshing and unique meld of flavors, or a bunch of cheap toppings on a dry bun and burger. My bet is that it’s either great or awful, but I’ll reserve judgment for now.
For a lighter option, consider one of the salads inspired by French and Chinese cuisines.
First up, the Niçoise-style Salad is packed with potatoes, white and green beans, and olives drizzled with a delicious Dijon vinaigrette.
For an Asian flare, get the General Tso Chicken Salad featuring ingredients like broccoli slaw, red bell pepper, mandarin oranges, and crispy wontons.
I don’t have strong thoughts on either of these. Walt Disney World can do salads well, but that’s not the guaranteed outcome. Electric Umbrella actually had one of the best-value salads in all of WDW: the Vegetable Quinoa Salad for $9.99. That was Sarah’s go-to entree in Epcot for several years.
Connections Cafe & Eatery will serve four different pizzas.
If you want a more classic option, the Meatball Pizza is the pie for you.
The Curry Spice Pizza topped with carrots, potato, peas, and lime “yogurt” puts a new plant-based twist on the classic pizza.
I will also withhold judgment on these and only offer the word of warning that Walt Disney World counter service pizza often looks great in stock photos, but then is more like Almost Pizza in person. With the open kitchen, perhaps these will be different? Keeping my expectations low, but hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
Then there are kids meals. Pictured above are the Grilled Chicken Bao and the Chicken Nuggets Basket or Cheeseburger.
These do nothing for me, but I’m also not a child. Whenever I see a kids meal that actually looks good, parents complain that there’s nothing for their picky eaters. So I guess the worst options is actually the best approach here.
Finally, there’s dessert. Connections Cafe & Eatery will feature an option that is both beautiful and delicious, the Liege Waffle. These treats are made with brioche yeast dough stuffed with pearl sugar and finished with some tasty toppings.
I’m really looking forward to this. Manneken Belgian Waffles are one of my favorite sweet treats, and this reminds me a lot of that.
If you love shakes, Connections Cafe & Eatery has you covered with two different options.
First, there’s a Mango-Coconut Milk Shake topped off with a pomegranate molasses drizzle for a nice, refreshing beverage.
Second, the Apple Pie Gelato Shake will give you that sweet fix you crave.
Shakes are always a crapshoot with Disney. These could be really good, but also $10 each but served in a shot glass-sized cup. Or, they could taste like artificial flavors and sugar, but be huge. Hopefully these end up being somewhere in between. Epcot deserves its own Schmoozies!
Whether you’re interested in an adult beverage or a non-alcoholic one, you have options at Connections Cafe & Eatery.
The Watermelon-Mint Agua Fresca is alcohol-free so the whole family can enjoy it.
For those over 21, there are multiple wines and draft beers available, along with the Cucumber and Thai Basil Cooler, a specialty cocktail filled with freshness and flavor.
I can’t remember the last time I liked one of these novelty drinks at Walt Disney World. At this point, I’ve simply filed them under “not for me.” Hope others enjoy them, though.
UPDATE: In addition to the sneak peek, Walt Disney World has now posted the full menus for Connections Cafe & Eatery, including pricing.
Above is a look at the burgers and pizza. This is right in line with “gourmet” burgers and standard pizza other in-park counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
Above is salads, plant-based items, and kids’ meals.
Again, nothing particularly surprising. Perhaps the most noteworthy detail is that there’s only one plant-based item, but given that this is Epcot’s “crowd-pleasing theme park staples” restaurant, it’s not really a shock.
Then there are desserts and shakes.
For some reason, I thought there would be several different toppings options for the Liege Waffles or that they’d at least be customizable. So that’s a bit disappointing, at least for me.
Finally, Walt Disney World has officially confirmed that Epcot’s new Starbucks will be located inside Connections Cafe & Eatery. This has been pretty well unofficially assumed for the last couple of years, but with radio silence from Walt Disney World about the subject even a month or so ahead of the counter service restaurant’s opening, we were beginning to wonder if that was bad info.
It’s safe to assume that the current Starbucks (Traveler’s Cafe) near Honey Bee-stro (near the entrance to World Showcase) will close when Connections Cafe opens. No official word on that yet, but it’s unlikely Epcot will have two Starbucks locations.
Ultimately, it’s fair to say the menu for Connections Cafe & Eatery is more inspired than its interior design, but that’s a bar so low, you could trip over it. Unlike many Walt Disney World fans, we felt that Electric Umbrella was unfairly maligned and was not the worst counter service restaurant in the parks. To be clear, we didn’t love Electric Umbrella, nor are we trying to re-write history and claim it was a hidden gem or deserved to be saved. It wasn’t and didn’t–its time had come and gone about a decade before it actually closed.
Nevertheless, whether Connections Cafe & Eatery can surpass Electric Umbrella is an open question. This menu looks more ambitious and is certainly larger, but that’s usually the case with pre-release stock photos. The true test will be about a year from now–what options are available, how do they taste and are they appropriately sized, and at what price points? Regardless, it’ll be good to have a restaurant return to the front of the park–here’s hoping it can compete with Epcot Sunshine Griddle and Farmers Feast, the nearby food booths that are both top tier.
Are you excited for Connections Cafe & Eatery? Any of these menu items stand out as things you’d like to try, or will you stick to festival booths and World Showcase? Did you dine at Electric Umbrella in the couple of years before it closed? Was it better than you expected, or are we crazy for giving it any praise? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!