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Universal Designed a Perfect Restaurant 20 Years Ago. Here's Why Disney Should Have Taken Notes

2. An atmosphere for adults (that still mesmerizes kids)

Mythos giant flower sconces

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

The first thing I noticed about Mythos was how insanely soothing the interior was. You just can’t help but gape at the cavernous ceilings, the soft lighting, and the gorgeous views of the sun shining or setting over the park. Glowing glass sconces formed to look like aquatic flora cast an ethereal light over the dining area, while the stone walls are carved to bring to mind mythical beasts. Fountains flow in the corners, creating an ever-present feel of water around you. If you can visit during a season that isn’t too busy, eating at Mythos is almost a spa-like experience for adults.

Disney certainly has some standout examples of adult-centric dining with incredible theming: Epcot’s Coral Reef, Tutto Italia, and Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are all great examples. However, Mythos does something truly incredible: it sets an atmosphere that is simultaneously peaceful and classy for adults while totally mesmerizing kids.

We mentioned before that the atmosphere feels like something out of Aquaman. The larger-than-life setting of the Lost Continent and Mythos gives kids plenty to take in while you eat. To you, it feels like a fine dining restaurant. To them, Mythos feels like the setting for an adventure—a sea king’s palace or the long-lost location of a cursed treasure. Thanks to this versatile atmosphere, Mythos has been able to ride the tide from starting out as a fine dining restaurant then morphing into a family dining experience that feels surprisingly upscale.

3. Quality food without signature prices

Mythos Flounder

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

Now, I will be the first to say that Disney has several restaurants that are easily on par or have better food than Mythos. Most are found in their resorts, but within the parks, you could argue that Monsieur Paul, Tutto Italia, Tiffins, and possibly Be Our Guest fit the bill. Mythos has some seriously good food, but I wouldn’t say it matches the quality of Jiko, The Flying Fish, or California Grill.

Despite these standouts, in the vast majority of Disney restaurants, there has been a defined shift away from the rich quality of yesteryear, especially since the arrival of the Disney Dining Plan. Even mainstays like Le Cellier, The Garden Grill, and The Brown Derby have waned in excellence. Many of Disney’s restaurants have adjusted their menus and ingredients to accommodate serving big families large amounts of food quickly rather than cultivating a unique culinary experience. More and more of the food at Disney feels homogenized and mass-produced, even at formerly-excellent locations.

Disney could learn a lot from Mythos in this area. For one thing, it is possible to produce an experience that feels like fine dining but is accessible to families. Mythos’ eclectic Mediterranean menu included some wonderfully delicious dishes, from their zesty Mezze Platter appetizer to the surprisingly rich Wild Caught Pacific Flounder. For families with picky eaters, the menu also includes a traditional cheeseburger, a grilled chicken sandwich, and a range of familiar salads (as well as a kid-friendly menu).

The other area where Mythos shines over Disney is that they prove you can offer an exquisite theme park culinary experience without an exorbitant price tag. We loved how reasonable the prices were at Mythos. Across the board, Universal Studios tends to have more tempered dining prices than Disney, but we were surprised that this carried over to Mythos. At Disney, even with a Passholder discount, prices are painfully inflated, especially at table service restaurants. Like the shift in quality, some blame this on side effects of the Disney Dining Plan, but Mythos proves that you don’t have to hike prices to produce a superb dining experience.

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