It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, Regal Eagle Smokehouse is finally open at EPCOT! After months of watching and waiting, reporting on when a sign could be seen or when the feature smoker arrived, we finally got to step inside of the refreshed dining venue in The American Adventure at EPCOT. Let’s take a look at our Regal Eagle Smokehouse review!
As you might know, Regal Eagle Smokehouse takes over the space previously occupied by Liberty Inn. This isn’t a new build, but there are some new elements in Regal Eagle Smokehouse that didn’t exist with Liberty Inn. The most notable change has to be the addition of The Muppets.
As the backstory goes, Regal Eagle Smokehouse is the site for Sam Eagle’s Centennial Cook-Off: A Salute to All Cook-Offs but Mostly Barbecue. Described as a competition fit for all patriots and pit masters, it brings in a variety of classic backyard barbecue selections from across the country to vie for Sam’s top honor.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse participates in the Disney Dining plan and is one quick service entitlement. The menu below indicates more about what you can get with the dining plan.
Like most reviews of new dining locales, we’ll start this one with an examination of the theming of the restaurant.
When it was first announced as a Muppets eatery, many on social media were a bit apprehensive (to say the least). There should be little doubt that Regal Eagle Smokehouse is an upgrade to Liberty Inn, and while the inclusion of Disney characters in a previously IP-less dining location will ruffle some feathers, we enjoyed the changes.
While the theming wasn’t light enough to be missed entirely, it wasn’t overly in your face either. Disney struck a good balance here. Even the sign that was promised to feature Sam Eagle was toned down to just say Regal Eagle Smokehouse.
Inside, the space is laid out the exact same as Liberty Inn. Some of the changes included the obvious theming and the removal of the feature fountain in the middle of the dining space. As you can see in the photos below, patriotic theming gives you the overwhelming sense that what will follow will be distinctly American.
Ordering still takes place at the back of the restaurant, with the far right lane dedicated to Mobile Order. Because this is still a quick service restaurant, you’ll order your food here and then head back out to the dining space to find seating.
There are a variety of seating options, from benches to chairs, padded and unpadded for the indoor seating. Outdoors, you’re limited to wooden bench seating and every table has an umbrella.
The smoker wasn’t in use when we dined today, but Cast Members said they might use it beginning tomorrow.
Here’s a look at some of the indoor seating. Overall, this is an upgrade from the iron (read: LOUD) chairs from Liberty Inn. The space feels a bit darker than Liberty Inn, but it makes sense and keeping the skylight was a wonderful idea.
Theming on the walls highlights each of the Muppet pit masters and their unique entry into the competition.
Overall, we really enjoyed the theming and feel like it has enough for Muppets fans to draw them in, without going overboard or creating something that doesn’t fit the space and theming of The American Adventure as a whole.
Ok, it’s time to eat! We tried to get a good spread without wasting food that the four of us in our party couldn’t eat. Luckily, we got through everything pictured!
American Platter – $18.99
We’ll start with the American Platter, which gives you a choice of three meats, garlic toast, and a choice of a side. We went with the Memphis Dry-Rub Pork Ribs, Chopped Smoked Pork Butt, and Half Chicken. For a side, we selected the mac & cheese. Other sides included house-made pickles, garlic toast, creamy coleslaw, french fries, beer battered onion rings, and baked beans with burnt ends. We’ll explore some of those sides in a bit.
As far as the platter goes, we’ll break down the items in a bit, but wanted to comment on the idea of a platter first. Given that this is a cook-off and there are options from around the country on display, a platter is probably your best bet. You might not want to sample what we did, but what’s more American than being able to select from an assortment of BBQ to get you through a day at a Disney theme park?
We’ll take this time to talk about the mac & cheese as we didn’t get it with any other entree. The mac & cheese was excellent! Equal parts creamy and the breadcrumb topping added in a crunch to the first few bites. It is a top three side option with the garlic toast and beer-battered onion rings.
Here’s a look at the individual items when purchased a la carte as well as our thoughts on them.
Memphis Dry-Rub Pork Ribs – $15.99
The dry-rub really comes through here, even if the ribs aren’t necessarily the best. They stick to the bone and are cooked well, but our personal preference when it comes to ribs is a wetter sauce and fall off the bone meat. That said, the memphis style flavoring was wonderful, combining sweet and savory for an enjoyable offering.
North Carolina Chopped Smoked Pork Butt – $12.49
A vinegar sauce never overpowered or diluted the taste of the pork butt. As a matter of fact, this might have been one of our favorites due to how tender and juicy the pork butt was. This was a real winner, but the portion size was disappointing (even on the a la carte entree pictured below). As a matter of fact, the portion size could be considered disappointing on many of the entrees, but we’ll discuss a bit later.
Kansas City Smoked Half Chicken – $13.99
A wonderfully cooked and smokey skin greets your every bite. Inside, the chicken was tender and juicy, a real testament on how well this was cooked. If you like working a bit for your meal, the half chicken may be the dish for you.
Sliced Texas Beef Brisket Sandwich – $12.99
A house-smoked brisket with spicy mop sauce and choice of a side
Another winner was the beef brisket sandwich. It was juicy and flavorful with just a bit of spice from the mop sauce. We went with the beer-battered onion rings and they were amazing! A nice, crispy exterior didn’t venture into the “overly hard” category that can overwhelm the mouthfeel of an onion ring. We’ll also take some time to talk about how much we loved the garlic toast as a bun. It was buttery and soft, but never broke down enough to lose its integrity as a bun first and foremost.
South Carolina Smoked Sausage – $11.49
Tangy mustard sauce, caramelized onions, and a choice of a side
A whole sausage is sliced in two and placed between garlic toast buns along with an assortment of sausage-appropriate accompaniments. The caramelized onions and tangy mustard sauce were a smart duo for the well cooked sausage. Again, we can’t seem to get enough of the garlic toast buns. This won’t be the last time we praise them, but as for the sausage, if the ingredients sound good to you, we can recommend this dish.
Ok, it’s time to talk about the pickles. When we posted an overview photo on Twitter of our meal, it seemed to kick off some very strong reactions about pickles as a side. They’re good! I know that pickles at a normal BBQ joint are handed out like free water at Disney, but we enjoyed them and felt that Disney did enough with flavoring to earn the house-made title and earn a spot as a side. Of course, you can do just as good if not better with the garlic toast, beer-battered onion rings, or mac & cheese, but the pickles beat out the regular, run of the mill french fries and baked beans in our opinion.
BBQ Burger – $13.49
Burger topped with BBQ pork, fried onion ring, and a choice of a side
Good luck saying no to a burger with an American Flag in it. And with a burger this good, you won’t be saying no, we promise. The burger patty itself actually doesn’t look that appetizing in the following photos for whatever reason, I’m sure it’s the photographer’s fault. Doesn’t matter though, because the BBQ pork is tender and tangy, and the GARLIC TOAST BUNS are still EXCELLENT.
Power Greens Salad – $11.49
Served with chilled pulled chicken and fresh citrus
Not everyone in your party will want to get BBQ, we get that, and so does Disney. Enter, the Power Greens Salad. The salad probably wasn’t anything too special, but the citrus was a nice compliment to the chicken. We will say that the portion size of the salad was the best of any offering, which we appreciated.
BBQ Jackfruit (Beyond) Burger – $12.99
Plant-based (Beyond) burger topped with BBQ Jackfruit and choice of a side
As a plant-based option, you can get a Beyond branded burger accompanied by BBQ Jackfruit. As a popular vegan meat replacement, the jackfruit paired nicely with the Beyond burger and the BBQ flavor came through. Out of the four of us, we were split between the regular burger and this plant-based option, which speaks to the quality of the Beyond burger.
S’Mores Brownie – $4.99
This was excellent! A brownie middle layer is squished between a graham cracker base and burnt marshmallow top with a piece of chocolate on top. We’ll be back to enjoy this one!
Banana Pudding – $4.99
This is quite the robust option, with chunks of banana and cake in the pudding. The addition of cookies on top made for a nice scoop or two along with whipped cream that added some sweetness to it.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse has come out of the gates strong, building on the goodwill that some of the temporary BBQ festival offerings have earned in recent years. A permanent BBQ joint at the back of Epcot might entice locals to get back to The American Adventure, and we’d imagine the place will be pretty popular after concerts at the American Gardens Theater. We didn’t explore the beer list simply because we think that guests will either skip some of the common beers on the list or venture back with a beer in mind that they’ve been wanting to try. A walk-up bar makes a lot of sense given how popular the pavilion can get before and after concerts.
That said, the reason to pencil in Regal Eagle Smokehouse into your upcoming vacation will no doubt be the BBQ on offer. We didn’t think that the portion sizes were big enough pretty much across the board, but that’s really not too surprising given that this is a Disney quick service location and not your local BBQ joint. Even if the portion sizes left some to be desired, the flavors that came through were enough to justify the prices when considering the “Disney tax”.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse is a great option if you’re visiting Epcot in the near-term with Electric Umbrella now closed and less than stellar options at temporary dining spots. Even in the long-term, Regal Eagle Smokehouse should prove to be a popular spot, especially on the rare days where we have pleasant, cool breezes as the sun sets and the concerts kick off.