Last night, I dreamt I went to Muppets BBQ again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to Regal Eagle Smokehouse, and for a while I could not enter for the way was barred to me. Yet it felt so real as I clasped the contour of Sam Eagle’s noble noggin on the gate’s marquee and smelled those seductive scents of heavenly barbecue.
Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed by supernatural powers. A black goat stood before me flaunting a devilish grin, as goats are wont to do. “Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?” he inquired. “Ah c’mon, Black Phillip, you’re killing me, man!” I retorted. My dream of a stately Sam Eagle BBQ joint turned nightmare again–perhaps I should stop watching scary movies right on Netflix before bed.
Sensing my dismay, or perhaps just wanting breakfast, Yossarian the Cat woke me from my slumber with repeated licks to my eyelids and jabs to my face. I trudged downstairs feeling dejected over the broken dream, yet my heart still racing from the nightmare. That is, until I opened my laptop to see the latest Disney Parks Blog headline: “New Regal Eagle Smokehouse Coming to Epcot Takes Its Inspiration from the Honorable Sam Eagle.”
As you might recall, Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue is the new fast-casual restaurant opening soon at the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. Previously, Walt Disney World released the menu and concept art for the restaurant.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & BBQ is slated to open “this winter,” which means sometime before March 19, 2020. It’s difficult to ascertain how accurate this is from looking at construction, but around the start of spring and Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival seems like a logical target.
Per the Disney Parks Blog, this forthcoming smokehouse will take its name from the venerable Sam Eagle, the Muppet known for his patriotism and strict sense of duty and honor. He takes all things seriously, and barbecue is certainly one of those things.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse will be the site for “Sam’s Centennial Cook-Off: A Salute to All Cook-Offs but Mostly Barbecue.” Guests will be the beneficiaries of this contest, which is described as “a competition fit for all patriots and pit masters.” Regal Eagle will bring in a variety of classic backyard barbecue selections from across the country to vie for Sam’s top honor.
It’ll also bring with the poster below, as well as special Regal Eagle Smokehouse merchandise. We can only assume these items will feature Sam Eagle, although my wallet trembles at the thought of me purchasing the entire line of such distinguished attire at full price, rather than waiting for it to hit the outlets. (It’s the distinctly patriotic thing to do!)
As you also might recall, back last summer when the restaurant was first announced, I politely requested that Walt Disney World use Sam Eagle from the Muppets as the host of this restaurant. Okay, okay–it wasn’t totally polite.
Specifically, here’s what I wrote at the time: “If the ‘Regal Eagle’ in this Smokehouse is not Sam Eagle from the Muppets, we riot. That’s right, Walt Disney World–all of us fans that bemoan the introduction of gratuitous IP into World Showcase are now demanding exactly that.”
That continued, “Along with this, I think it’s safe to say a better name would be ‘Regal Eagle’s Distinctly Patriotic Smokehouse: A Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Barbecued Meats.’ If everything Disney names is going to be a full sentence anyway, might as well go all-out. I’m only half-kidding about both Sam Eagle and the name.”
Now it appears that’s coming to fruition, making Regal Eagle Smokehouse truly the stuff of my dreams. It’s got Muppets, meats, gratuitous patriotism…all of the essentials. Disney didn’t quite nail the preposterous name, but the rambling verbiage from that poster is pretty sharp. As the kids say, I’ll take the W.
Regular readers who have had to tolerate been blessed with my incessant MuppetVision quotes over the years know I’m a huge fan. Heck, a couple of years ago, we even had Sam Eagle as a guest author (the only one in this blog’s history!) to write “Sam’s Spangled 7: Disney’s Hollywood Studios Upgrades.”
Setting aside my personal preferences and Muppet biases, at least to the greatest extent possible, I wholeheartedly believe this has the potential to be a case of synergy done right. I joked before about the hypocrisy of bemoaning intellectual property in Epcot other times, while lauding it here.
However, I’ve long been of the mind that IP tastefully and appropriately integrated poses no problem. To the contrary, it can help keep Epcot in line with contemporary guest expectations. In other words, there are good and bad uses of intellectual property in Epcot. Just like anything else.
I was not particularly keen on Frozen Ever After being shoehorned into Norway, but Imagineers did a nice job of making lemonade out of lemons; the end result feels about as good as it can. Likewise, although I think Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is an underwhelming attraction in WDSP, I also believe that Ratatouille as a film (which is in part a love letter to Paris) is well-suited for World Showcase.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse seems like a logical location for a light character integration, and Sam Eagle is a solid choice. The venue itself is not all that thematically engaging (that’s always been the case), and injecting a character will give the place a bit more personality. Sam Eagle is pitch-perfect, too. He conveys a solemn and stately sensibility, but with a wry, wink and nod sarcasm beneath the surface.
PizzeRizzo took a similar approach a few years ago to a mixed reaction (including from us), with many complaining that it was a missed opportunity and squandered potential. The difference is that Muppet Courtyard would’ve benefitted massively from over-the-top decorations, gags, and other themed design. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is perfect for unbridled zaniness; World Showcase is not.
Suffice to say, Regal Eagle Smokehouse is an ideal setting for a subtle character element. While I’ll withhold final judgment until seeing it in person, I love the idea, and this has strong potential to be synergy done right. This has me even more excited for this Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Barbecued Meats. And I swear that I didn’t make a deal with Black Phillip to make this dream come true!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of Sam Eagle hosting Regal Eagle Smokehouse? Are you likewise excited for this, or do you think it’s yet another example of unnecessary IP in Epcot? Will you be doing your patriotic duty–buying the entire line of Regal Eagle merchandise? Still holding out hope that Disney adopts the “Regal Eagle’s Distinctly Patriotic Smokehouse: A Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Barbecued Meats ~ A Sam Eagle Craft Drafts & BBQ Joint” name for this restaurant? Do you agree or disagree with my take here? 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!