21 February 2011

Eat dainty

Adventureland has a problem on its hands. No, it’s not the fact that one the original marquee attractions, whose ‘new management’ has often been called into question, is currently shuttered due to fire. The plethora of guests who prefer the original cruise the Caribbean before it was high jacked can be overlooked. It’s not even the loss of identity of the Sunshine Pavilion’s snack stop, although the hindrance does have to do with food.Positioned at either entrance to Adventureland, whether coming from Frontierland or Main Street U.S.A., are two dining establishments that have long sat under-utilized with the ‘seasonal’ tag attached or completely shuttered. The Tortuga Tavern, previously known as El Pirata Y El Perico, and the Adventureland Veranda both reside in choice locations for a quick service dining establishment, but neither has been given appropriate opportunity in the past several years to shine. Despite overcrowding at mealtimes and the addition of eateries coinciding with the Fantasyland Expansion, Adventureland is the sole land within the Magic Kingdom without a single constant source for complete meals.

A potential solution to the problem would include permanently closing and repurposing one of the destinations, while using the larger establishment as the restaurant with an expanded menu. Although it has been sealed, save for a few events and as a makeshift food stand during a couple of busy seasons, the Adventureland Veranda would actually be my choice to become the Adventureland dining establishment. While the Veranda had a wonderful run from 1971 until 1994, and is beloved by many for its Asian inspired menu and vibrant setting, the true reason for its selection comes down to location. With access directly off of the Hub, as opposed to Tortuga Tavern’s positioning along the edge of the park, it is easily reached by guests from all lands, as well as providing contact to those same lands to guests who have finished their meals. This location would also potentially alleviate the congestion continually felt at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.

Now, that leaves the question of what to do with Tortuga Tavern down in the Caribbean Plaza. One solution, that does not leave valuable space unoccupied, is twofold. Firstly, the majority of the space that is currently used for seating would be annexed by the short-seated Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe with refurbished thematic elements. For the remainder of the area, a onetime guest favorite could make a return. I am, of course, speaking of the Caribbean Arcade, a game room where a pirate’s life could be a wonderful life filled with targeting games, fortune telling machines and doubloon imprinting machines (aka coin presses).

The current incarnation of Adventureland appears to be much maligned on the surface, but has a wonderful wealth of history, potential and uniquely designed spaces. This combination of factors leaves me with hope that one day, no matter who’s vision comes to pass, the future of adventure will be bright and flavorful.

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