You have a dining reservation at Epcot for Japanese food: the Japan pavilion’s Teppen Edo is your destination for gourmandization. But wait…one of your lunch guests requires a highchair. It’s your toddler, and they’re ready for some udon. Does that mean your date will be undone? Here are the top 10 things you need to make sure this dining experience goes smoothly (and yes, these things are in order) :
- Other Adults
- Hand Sanitizer
- Crayons and Activity Booklet
- Extra Plate
- Butter Knife
- Hand Wipes
- Bottle or Sippy Cup
- Cell Phone or Tablet
Most importantly, this adventure is more easily done with at least one other adult. It’s completely possible to go with just a toddler, but the more helping hands you have, the easier it is to enjoy a meal.
Now let’s assume that your toddler doesn’t regularly use a stroller anymore. But this is Disney, with extreme walking circumstances, so I’m going to guess you have a stroller anyway. The Japan pavilion at Epcot has some intense stairs leading up to the entrance of their restaurants, which can be daunting even for people without small children. Your best buds at this point are the inconspicuous elevator doors, located close to the front of the Mitsukoshi Department Store. It’s a smooth ride and you get to enjoy this super-awesome Japanese artwork on your way up.
The elevator leads you up to your check-in area where you park your stroller in the lobby. You are given a beeper that will go off when your table is ready, when the traditionally dressed hostesses will guide you to your grill. You are going to want a high chair or booster seat for your little one. A little tip is to ask to have your child seated at the corner of the hibachi grill; this will make it harder for them to accidentally reach the very hot cooking surface. And of course, spray that thing down with sanitizer. This is Disney, and every child from everywhere (along with a vast array of germs) have already invaded that same chair you’re about to place your child in.
Crayons and Activity Booklet
Once seated, the first thing you want to do as they hand you a menu is ask for a pack of complimentary crayons and an activity booklet. This will be essential in entertaining your child as you make your food selection. (I recommend the salmon; super yummy, especially when topped with yum yum sauce.) To speed up the process, take a look at the menu before you arrive.
After you make your selection, you are provided with a small packaged hand wipe. Request a second one and keep it for later. (Trust me, there’s a reason.) Next, your drink and a garden salad with an Asian inspired dressing arrive, along with the chef, who starts the show. Veggies come out first; you are treated to the making and eruption of an onion volcano among other fun tricks.
One might think an onion volcano would be enough to entertain a toddler, but it often is not. So this is where your chopsticks come in. Be sure to ask the hostess for an extra pair so you may give them to your toddler. And try to make sure your toddler isn’t sitting next to someone they don’t know, because it is inevitable that someone is going to get poked at this point. Rest assured, this gift will bring your little one minutes of joy as they pretend they’re the next Ringo Starr while you attempt to quickly stuff salad in your mouth.
Extra Plate and Butter Knife
The udon noodles will soon be done, so at this time, it is wise to ask for an additional small plate and a butter knife. Looks awesome right? It is.
It was learned the hard way that asking for a knife is essential when your fork has been accidentally taken away with your salad bowl and chopsticks really don’t cut it in order to make zucchini, onions, and noodles into bite-sized pieces for little toddler mouths. Sharing is caring, and this toddler very much appreciated his half of my lunch. (There’s a kids menu if you’re not feeling so generous.)
So as you can see, those little grabby toddler hands really got into this delicious food. So when all is done, it’s time to whip out that saved hand wipe and use it on your toddler, since it is most likely he or she is the only person at the table with ginger sauce covering face and hands.
Bottle or Sippy Cup + Cell Phone or Tablet
As you finish up your rice and choice of protein, you will be offered desserts such as green tea soft serve ice cream (go for it!). Your little one is full and fussy at this point, as well as bored with chopsticks, crayons, and food, but you still want to sample the Ginger Mousse Cake. What do you do? Break out the bottle or sippy cup full of delicious milk and grab your phone to pull up Moana on Netflix. This will keep the distracted little toddling one as happy as you so you both can enjoy the sweet ending to a delectable day dining out.
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