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April 2008 Archives

April 3, 2008

Yakitori House - Epcot's Japan

Yakitori House Sign

I'm currently remodeling my kitchen (among other projects). Anyone who has ever undertaken a home improvement project knows there are good days and bad days. Today was a bad day. First, the tile man called and cancelled. He had a legitimate excuse, but I was disappointed, none the less. Since I now had the day free, I decided I'd buy paint and embrace a brush and roller. To make a very long story short, I ended up with the wrong color. It was now approaching 5pm and I was frustrated and hungry. My instinct was to sit in front of the TV for the rest of the night and fume, but I decided this wasn't my best course of action so I forced myself into the car and I headed for Epcot.

When I reached one of the outer parking lots, I was directed to the far end of a row - naturally. I just missed the tram so I walked to the main gate. After entering the park, I practically sprinted through Future World. Fortunately, I timed my arrival at the Canada Friendship Boat Landing just as they were loading. I climbed aboard and we set sail. I exited at Morocco and once again took up power walking as I headed for the Yakitori House in the Japan pavilion - which is the point of my blog.

The Yakitori House is my favorite counter service restaurant in Epcot. I like the food, but more than that, I like the atmosphere. It's quiet and serene - the perfect place to go when you need to clear your head and relax.

Yakitori House

If the weather is too hot or too cold, I sit in the indoor dining room. Rough-hewn logs hold up the thatched roof while faux shoji screens make up three walls of the restaurant. The ordering counter makes up the fourth. Most tables are long, seat six, and are meant to be shared with strangers, but rarely are. The views from here are peaceful as you look out over much of the Japan Pavilion.

Yakitori House

If the weather is nice, as it was this evening, I sit outdoors. Here you'll find approximately ten tables that seat two or four, generously spaced, under Japanese lanterns. Manicured gardens and a lovely rock waterfall and pond surround you. Sitting out here, you feel miles away from everything. Even when all of the tables are in use, it's relatively quite as the waterfall seems to absorb the voices. The only break in this tranquility is when the drummers are performing under the pagoda.

Yakitori House

To be honest, I can't tell you too much about the menu since I always order the same thing: Shogun Combination - teriyaki chicken thigh, sukiyaki beef, and steamed rice (hold the ginger). But I've always been happy with this selection so I like to think I'd enjoy some of their other offerings. I guess I'm in a rut.

Now I realize that most of you cannot dash off to Epcot for dinner when you've had a bad day. But I would like to suggest the Yakitori House when you're here on vacation. Epcot is big and it can be stressful. You need to take a break now and then and this spot is the perfect place to do that. Even if it's not meal time, stop by and have a soda (or something stronger) and sit for a spell.

I stretched out my simple meal tonight to around 35 minutes. I ate slowly, enjoyed the atmosphere, and made silly faces with the cutest baby in a stroller seated at a table next to me. By the time I left, I had (almost) forgotten my hectic day and was fairly relaxed. I strolled through the rest of World Showcase instead of my previous frenzied walk.

There are other peaceful places to be found in Epcot, but for me, the Yakitori House is hands-down the most delightful.

Reader Yakatori House Reviews

Yakatori House Menu

April 5, 2008

Step Back in Time to 1972 - Back by popular demand

Last time I posted old pictures of WDW I received numerous emails requesting more. So here goes. Once again, all of these pictures were taken in January 1972, just a little more than three months after the "World" opened.

These first two pictures are of topiary as seen while driving from the Main Entrance toward the Contemporary Resort. An interesting note" These were fake - made out of plastic. I'm not sure exactly why. Perhaps they were an afterthought and Disney didn't have time to sculpt real plants before opening. Or maybe they didn't have sprinklers out this far yet. Whatever the reason, I was a little disappointed to see fakes since I was used to seeing the real thing at Disneyland.

1972 Topiary

1972 Topiary

This next picture is of more plastic topiary. The Magic Kingdom bus loading area now occupies this space.

Plastic Topiary 1972

The newly opened Polynesian Resort, as seen from the monorail, is pictured here. The ferry landing is in the foreground. Notice the Poly was much smaller then. The two additions were still years away.

Polynesian Resort 1972

And this next picture was also taken from the monorail looking back across land that would eventually become an expanded Polynesian Resort.

Polynesian Resort Future Expansion Area

This final picture was taken looking north from the Contemporary. Notice the utilities plant. It was an eyesore back then but is now hidden behind trees.

1972 Contemporary

April 12, 2008

Jack's Mail Bag

I want to thank everyone who writes in about my blogs. I really appreciate the feedback!

Here are some recent emails I've received:

Cindy Hershey
Loved the blog with the 1972 pictures. Please post more from any years that you have. They bring back so many memories. I grew up 15 minutes from Disney and have so many wonderful childhood memories. My husband made his first trip at the age of 35 in 2000. I try to tell him some of the things that used to be there, what some places "used" to look like. Your pictures have shown him what I have told him. I would love to see some pictures of the old topiaries that used to be between the Contemporary and Magic Kingdom. The ones that you could see from the monorail. Thanks again for bringing back wonderful memories!

Holley writes:
I love all your old photos of what the World used to look like. It helps me look at things a little differently trying to visualize what things WERE like as compared to now. On our last trip (2 weeks worth of WDW) somehow we took almost 500 different pictures of stuff. My husband kept saying, "why are you taking a picture of that?" Your column proves my point that when my toddler daughter is my age she can look back at our photo albums and see how the World has changed as compared to as it is now.

Moley writes:
What a delightful review on the Yakitori House. It really captured the mood of this little gem of a counter service eatery. Next time we want a picture of that shogun combo, too, please. Excellent blog. I always enjoy your writings.

Suzanne from PA.
Hi Jack- LOVE your blog, and always look forward to a new entry! Anyway- I feel your pain with your kitchen! We are remodeling our bathroom, and I sure do wish I could just head to EPCOT for dinner to forget about all the mess! Thanks for all the wonderful reviews! Suzanne from PA.

Kathy writes:
I ate at Wolfgang Puck's on the Monday after their opening. Our waiter was very friendly and helpful and we had a fantastic breakfast - good coffee! While we were eating they were in the process of installing new table umbrellas for their outdoor seating and an outdoor menu sign. We were so impressed we ate there again on Wednesday. In past trips I have enjoyed their pizzas, which are much better than those at any of the resort hotels.

Foxx writes:
Saw your post about the Old Mill reference on Tom Sawyer's Island. Have you ever noticed that the creaking gears in the mill play "Down By the Old Mill Stream"? It may take a bit for that part of the track to kick in, but if you stand and listen to it for a bit it's unmistakable. =)

Thanks again everyone!

April 17, 2008

Harper's Mill, Old Time Telephone, and Kingdom Tower - Walt Disney World

I recently wrote a blog about the bird's nest hidden in Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom. One of my readers, Chris, wrote to tell me that if you listen carefully, the creaking gears inside the mill play "Down By The Old Mill Stream." I checked it out today and sure enough, if you know what you're listening for, there's no mistaking this tune. Thanks Chris.

Harpers Mill Tom Sawyer Island

In another blog I wrote that when Arribas Brothers took over the Market House on Main Street, the old-time telephone was removed. Another reader, Shorty, wrote to tell me that the old telephone now has a new home in the Chapeau Shop on Town Square. Yea! Thanks Shorty.

Chapeau Shop Main Street USA

Telephone in Chapeau Shop

Telephone in Chapeau Shop

As I keep saying, it's these little details that make Disney special. Now, if I could just convince Disney to bring back Jennifer, the ticket seller that used to sit in the entrance area of the Main Street Cinema"

While riding the monorail to the Magic Kingdom today, I snapped a couple of pictures of the "Kingdom Tower" (the yet to be announced DVC) under construction. As you can see by the pictures, the structure is coming right along and it appears they're currently working on the twelfth floor. Also, new construction has commenced on the walkway that will connect the new resort with the fourth floor of the Contemporary.

Kingdom Tower

Kingdom Tower

April 24, 2008

Favorite Restaurants at Walt Disney World

A reader asked me for a list of my ten favorite Disney World restaurants. He also asked me for a list of my LEAST favorite Disney World restaurants. I've decided to answer half of his question, sort of, by telling you my favorite counter service and full service restaurant for each park, Downtown Disney, and the resorts as a whole. Now there are some Disney World eateries that I don't like, but for the moment I'm going to keep that list to myself.

Of course, this list is purely subjective and could change tomorrow, depending on my mood. Also, since I'm listing restaurants by location, some selections might make this list, but wouldn't necessarily make a true, "top ten" list. But here are my choices as of this moment.

Magic Kingdom:

Counter Service: Columbia Harbour House
Table Service: The Plaza Restaurant


Counter Service: Yakitori House
Table Service: Bistro de Paris

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Counter Service: None of them
Table Service: Brown Derby

Disney's Animal Kingdom:

Counter Service: A tie between Flame Tree Barbeque and Pizzafari
Table Service: Yak & Yeti

Downtown Disney:

Counter Service: Earl of Sandwich
Table Service: Portobello Yacht Club or Raglan Road

Disney Resorts:

Counter Service: Everything Pop Food Court
Table Service: Flying Fish, followed closely by Citricos

Best Buffet Property Wide: Boma, followed closely by Cape May Café

Best Character Meal Property Wide: I don't do Character Meals!

You may have wondered why I didn't select Victoria & Albert's as my favorite resort table service restaurant. There's a reason I didn't. You see, I put Vickie & Al's (as I like to call it) in a class all by itself. You can't begin to compare this restaurant to anything else at Disney World it is so outstanding. I try to restrict my visits to once every three years or so. The reason, I want to keep this experience extra special and if I ate here too often it would lose some of its charm.

Now remember, my list of restaurants is just that, MY list. If you don't agree with some (or all) of my choices, that's great. Your selections are every bit as valid as mine.

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About April 2008

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in April 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

May 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.