Tuesday 2 September 2008

Dimly Lit Toilets at Margaritaville Take Away from Place's Tropical Feel

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville at City Walk
6000 Universal Blvd # 704
Orlando, FL USA

Where is it?

The entrance to this eatery is just off the main drag at City Walk and as a result is a lot lower-key than the entrances to some of the other places here.

Also, you don't really enter the restaurant once you go inside. After stepping through the dining room entrance door, you'll find yourself in a small enclave. The gift shop, to your right, is the most prominent sight, then the hostess stand, then a set of stairs, and then another hallway to the left.

Down the stairs is the restaurant's main dining room. The hallway to the left leads to the bar area as well as the bathrooms.

As your heading towards the bar, look for a hallway to open up to your right just before the entrance to the bar appears (if you reach the bar, you've gone too far). Go down the hallway and you'll see the toilets.

What's it like?

This tropical-themed chain restaurant location comes filled with decor that aims to replicate its Key West inspirations. Walls and floors are covered in sandy colors or faux planks, to mimic the look and feel of a deck or pier, and Buffet-based music (Island-rhythms, etc.) plays constantly on the PA system.

The menu here is what I would call Americanized Bahamian. There's a lot of seafood, tropical fruits, salsa and such, but none of it is too spicy or too indigenously Caribbean to scare people away (no Oxtail curry or pepper pot soup, for example). Expect to find some good conch fritters and grilled fish tacos, alongside decent American standards, like the wonderful "Cheeseburger in Paradise," an enormous patty that comes on a beautifully doughy roll.

And, as you can imagine from the place's name, there's a strong emphasis on drink. For example, the dining room has a large volcano in it that erupts every hour with margarita mixer and has that mixer flow into a giant blender.

Though it's very theme-park-based, it's still a fun place to dine and the food is decent on the whole -- and really it's one of the better places in City Walk for a decently priced quality meal (for example, nearby Emeril's can set you back a few hundred dollars for dinner).

The toilets extend the Key West vibe of the place. Though if anything they could be a bit brighter and well-lit. When I think of Key West, I think of sunshine and beaches, not dim lighting. As a result, the vibe gets somewhat lost here.

If it weren't for the lighting, I'd say the Island feel is successfully evoked here. The walls are covered with seaside murals and painted on fencing boards -- all of which gives an enjoyable, if not slightly tacky, tropical vibe. The sink here is a trough with three hook faucets instead of a classic sink station -- not sure why, since that makes me feel like I'm in a butcher shop or barn, but I liked the change. The water pressure is quite rabid coming out of it though, so turn on the faucet slowly and find the right pressure for you before putting your hands under, otherwise you'll get soaked from the splashing.

Toilets and urinals are separated from one another with black dividers and the urinals are set in deep divider corridors, allowing for maximum privacy. Except that the black dividers here make it even more dark -- not so much that you can't see where you're going (this isn't Shari Sushi dark, mind you) but still a little darker than you'd like it to be.

On the plus side, it's very clean here and about on par with what I found at the better toilets I visited in Islands of Adventure or Universal -- save for the wonderful Lost Continent facilities, which bested these completely. There was some left-behind strips of toilet paper beneath one of the toilets, but outside of that it was pretty clean here.

Marks out of 10:

7. Very nice theme restaurant bathroom. Would have rated higher if the place were lit a little better.

Comments to the Management:

Increase the lighting some -- people come to the restaurant to experience an extension of Buffet's Key West mojo, and the dim lighting takes away from the feeling. Otherwise, good job with everything else.

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