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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch: The New Brew in Town Tickles the Tastebuds

14 October 2012

Residents, visitors, and guests of Orlando were treated to quite a surprise this past weekend when a new brew came to town at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Lucky guests of the kingdom and internet savvy Disney park fans got the chance to explore New Fantasyland in a soft opening preview. For Disney foodies like you and I, part of this preview was the highly anticipated return of Maurice’s Amazing Popping Machine and Gaston’s Tavern, a small food and beverage location like Sunshine Tree Terrace and the Lunching Pad. Complete with such details as decorative taxidermy, interior damage from bar fights, and bulky “wooden” tables and chairs, the tavern is a convincing recreation of the antler decorated pub devoted to Gaston seen in the rousing musical number “Gaston” of Beauty and the Beast.

Being a tavern, the food and beverage stand serves tavern-like food such as roasted pork shank (the Turkey leg’s new will-it-or-won’t-it-be-popular cousin) and fresh, warm cinnamon buns, the same served at Main Street Bakery. A highly trustworthy source states Gaston’s Tavern will take over the serving and production of the popular Magic Kingdom snack. The Main Street Bakery will be closing its store and oven doors when it goes down for rehab next year to make way for the park’s Starbucks. With no other obvious food location in the park, Gaston’s Tavern is the most sensible location to transfer a Magic Kingdom exclusive.

The design of the menu makes it seem as though the meat source, Pork, may be interchangeable in the future

The tavern like food is only a background feature in the menu at Gaston’s. The main attraction is the already marketed LeFou’s Brew, advertised and described as a “no-sugar added frozen apple juice beverage with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with an all-natural passion fruit-mango foam.” I got a chance to try a small sample of the brew while training for my new job. The toasted marshmallow was certainly a hint as I could barely find it, but it was there nonetheless. The fruit foam was nice, simply something different, nothing outside, but a welcome new flavor combination with the apple juice. While not normally a big fan of apple juice, I found it to be quite refreshing and delicious. For me, regular apple juice is rather acidic and astringent for my tastes. LeFou’s frozen version reduces the strength of the juice, making it more palatable for those who aren’t keen on apple juice. This is so because temperature of food plays a big role in your sense of taste. If food items are significantly hotter or colder than the average temperature of your mouth, less flavor is perceived because your tastebuds are shocked by the temperature change. This is particularly true for cold foods, such as ice cream. Ice cream is essentially flavored milk that has been churned and chilled. If one churns and chills milk, it wouldn’t taste like anything, hence the addition of vanilla, chocolate, etc. Anyhow, for LeFou’s brew, the same principle holds true, allowing me to enjoy the apple juice without cringing.

Now one cannot talk about LeFou’s brew – or New Fantasyland for that matter – without discussing its obvious competition: Butterbeer, a non-alcoholic butterscotch flavored fizzy beverage with a creamy foam found over at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventures. When discussing LeFou’s brew with friends, the first instinct was to compare it to butterbeer. For those of you who are unaware, butterbeer is the beverage Harry Potter and his friends drink in local wizard pubs. With the creation of the theme park version of this popular book’s universe, this beverage was a must needed atmospheric and storytelling item as well as an expected merchandising opportunity. While I did enjoy having the drink of Harry and his friends I’ve read and wondered about for years, I found it to be much too sweet and I usually am not able to finish it. On the bright side, the park also serves a frozen version which I prefer much more like the already frozen LeFou’s brew. My guess is that the regular butterbeer is the base used to make the frozen version, so it is already overly sweet and flavored.

Guests can debate endlessly whether this is true or not, but in my opinion, New Fantasyland is the obvious response to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Besides the makeover of Mickey’s Birthdayland into its subsequent re-naming and re-theming, Magic Kingdom has not had a major park addition since the 1992 opening of Splash Mountain, so the timing of the opening of New Fantasyland is rather suspicious. LeFou’s Brew goes hand in hand with this theory, as its basic elements are not-so-coincidentally similar to butterbeer: a frozen beverage with a foamy topping served in a souvenir cup.

It can be argued that LeFou’s Brew is a necessary product as it is needed for the storytelling element of Gaston’s tavern. Though the neighboring Be Our Guest restaurant is serving beer and wine, Disney cannot serve beer, ale, or other alcoholic brews at Gaston’s, where it could be easily accessed and intake is less easily controlled. At the same time, a food and beverage location themed as a tavern cannot serve the usual theme park beverages. So the Imagineers and Food and Beverage team came up with LeFou’s Brew, a kid-friendly beverage that not only plays a story element for the location, but also conveniently can be marketed like the competition’s souvenir beverage. It seems like Disney tried to do butterbeer better by making it healthy and more exotic by using apple juice and mango. They also took it a step further by offering two types of souvenir cups: a Gaston/Beast decorated plastic tankard or a Belle decorated plastic goblet. Oddly enough, LeFou does not appear on his own brew. I guess Gaston felt that simply letting him use his name was more than generous.

Still, with all theories and arguments aside, LeFou’s Brew is a delicious and refreshing beverage as well as a fun souvenir (you can buy just the beverage though for a much lower cost). While I did enjoy my sample, my opinion may change after I have a full serving and also get my souvenir mug. For whatever reason how and this new park beverage came to be, I think the best part though is it is a great answer to the question of what will be served in Gaston’s Tavern and I’d have to say Magic Kingdom has an awesome new signature food item. Will it be the next Dole Whip? Will it be as beloved and sought after as the Main Street Bakery cinnamon roll? The answer will come when this tale becomes as old as time.


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