When people think of Sunshine Seasons at the Land pavilion in Epcot, the first word that comes to mind is bland food court. This is actually three words. Why can’t people count when they are thinking?
Listen, we get it. The food here is hardly amazing. The seating area looks like an 80s shopping mall. The congestion feels like a medieval obstacle course.
Pro Tip: Those escalators are slower than the Epcot FriendShips. And twelve times as likely to be broken when you want to go up.
Do even hardcore fans know the name of this food court? Sunshine Seasons is alliterative, but doesn’t exactly stick in your mind. Garden Grill is similarly alliterative, but you remember it because of that strange secret bedroom from the boat ride. Sunshine Seasons just gives you a view of those stupid escalators.
Was Sunshine Seasons Always This Boring?
The answer is basically yes. It used to be called Farmer’s Market, because the Land used to be really excited about farm stuff.
Just like the current restaurant, it had individual stations. Only these had cute little themed facades with labels like “Barbecue” and “Pasta” and “Handwich” (okay, not that last one).
And all the tables were covered with bubbly umbrellas that mimicked the look of the fake hot air balloons drifting high above you in the Land atrium.
At some point Disney renamed it to Sunshine Season Food Fair. Season, singular, because many seasons just felt exhausting.
And not food court. Food fair. What do you think this is, your local mall? This is Epcot fast food. “Fair” is a good way to describe it.
Now it’s just called Sunshine Seasons, plural. We think that’s fair.
The Untheming of Sunshine Seasons
Back when it first opened, there was a rather elaborate fountain in the seating area. It was domed, just like those umbrellas over the table. It was the highlight of the Sunshine Seasons Food Fair.
But then Disney removed the fountain and replaced it with more tables.
Oh, and they got rid of the colorful umbrellas.
And the cartoonish farm facades have vanished too.
This is why the Sunshine Seasons gets its ignominious reputation. It truly is more generic and bland than ever. Sure the balloons are still flying way above you. But does anyone really consider those to be part of the food court?
This Epcot restaurant is now themed to “Seasons” in name only. Or is it?
The Seasons of the Food Court
As it turns out, the Sunshine Seasons actually does take its theme seriously. But it does so in a way so subtle, it goes completely unnoticed.
Next time you enter The Land, while you are still on the upper floor, look down at the food court below you. The seating area is divided into four sections. One for each of the four seasons.
Hey, maybe that’s just a coincidence. Just because there are four of one thing and four of another doesn’t mean that we are suddenly in the midst of top-notch themed design. Looking down at them from above, you’d be hard-pressed to say this one is Summer and that one is Winter. Much less Spring and Fall.
But there really is a way to tell. You have to be looking at the tables themselves.
Despite a similar abstract style in the surface, there are clearly Winter tables with snowflakes and Summer tables with sunshine and Fall tables with dead leaves and Spring tables… with something. Cut grass, maybe. They stay in their area and the tables never, ever migrate.
You’d never spot it just by looking for an open seat to enjoy your overpriced cupcake. One laminate table top is the same as the next when you’re looking around a crowded food court. But the seasons are there. Just ask a Cast Member to wipe down the nearest gross table and remove the leftover napkins and you’ll know which season you’re dining in.
Maybe next time you visit, you’ll be able to match your entree to your season. Fresh fruit in the summer. Pumpkin Spice in the fall. Ice cream for winter. And… what food goes with Spring? Cut grass salad? Mudslides? We don’t know. But you can figure it out.
Pro Tip: Do not eat cut grass salad while visiting Epcot. It won’t agree with you.