Hello hello hello! Welcome back to my Disney World 101 Series. In my last post in this series, I started to talk about the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – also known as EPCOT Center. Because EPCOT is so large, I had to break my post up in to TWO separate posts. One for Future World, and one for World Showcase!
You may remember from my first part of my EPCOT series that EPCOT was created by literally smashing two theme park ideas together. The original idea for EPCOT was literally pieced together with the beginnings of a cultural themed park that later became World Showcase. EPCOT World Showcase countries allow you to travel to other cultures without ever leaving the park!
We’ve taken a look at all the great things Future World has to offer. Now it’s on to World Showcase! Food and fun abound on this cultural adventure around the world!
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World Showcase consists of 11 separate country pavilions. Each pavilion represents the amazing food, culture, and lifestyles from each of those countries. To make it more authentic, each pavilion employs cast members who are natives to each of the countries to work there! When you’re in Germany, you’ll find German speaking individuals from Munich, or British students studying abroad in the England pavilion. EPCOT World Showcase countries spare no expense to get all the details JUST right.
You probably have heard of people saying they’re going “Drinking Around the World” at EPCOT. This is a challenge that adventurous park guests undertake that requires you to buy (and ideally finish) 1 alcoholic beverage per pavilion. EPCOT World Showcase countries all have numerous alcoholic offerings. This makes it easy to sample the tastes of drinks around the world!
Most people start in Mexico, and naturally, by the time they reach Canada, they’re not exactly standing upright anymore. If this is a challenge you’re looking to undertake, try these tips:
- STAY HYDRATED especially if you’re at Disney during the summer! This is important to do regardless, but with alcohol draining your body of moisture, this is extra important.
- Start in Canada and work the opposite direction. This will help you (hopefully) avoid some of the rowdier drinkers.
- Grab food along with your drink. Even just a snack here or there will help keep your stomach full and absorb some of the alcohol.
Of course, you don’t need to be drinking to have a good time at World Showcase! EPCOT World Showcase countries have food, souvenirs, and attractions centered around the culture of that country. It’s literally like traveling around the world without ever leaving Orlando.
Let’s break them down one by one!
If you’re facing World Showcase Lagoon, head to your left to start our tour!
The Mexico Pavilion brings all the culture and delight of Mexico right to Florida! The majority of the pavilion is housed inside a Mayan style pyramid building. Before venturing inside, however, La Cantina de San Angelo is a quaint counter service restaurant outside the main pavilion that serves amazing tacos – and yes, margaritas!
Once you head inside the pavilion, you’ll find many shops and vendors to buy authentic Mexican souvenirs, jewelry, decor and so much more. One of my favorite rings is from this pavilion! On display are a number of historical artifacts as well. These displays highlight the old Mayan and Aztec cultures that shaped Mexico into the country it is today. The ceiling looks like the twinkling night sky. Ever been to the Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland? If so, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say it’s like being outside. With the added benefit of air conditioning, of course!
Inside the pyramid is one of the few “rides” in World Showcase. The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros is a bit like “it’s a small world”, but through the country of Mexico! Along the way, join José and Panchito as they look for Donald, who is naturally causing trouble all throughout the country. This ride usually has a wait time of only 10 minutes or so, even on the hottest Florida days!
After your tour, be sure to stop by San Angel Inn Restaurante. This sit down restaurant serves authentic Mexican faire and is reasonably priced at that. If you need some time off your feet while eating some delicious food, be sure to book a reservation! If you didn’t get a chance to sip on that margarita, don’t forget to grab one before you leave! A number of stands outside the pyramid line the way to the next country, just in case you forgot! 😉
The country of Arendelle has come to the Norway pavilion! The theming about this country has changed significantly since “Frozen” debuted in 2013. Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome is a must do for any little girl wanting to meet the princesses of Ardenelle. These aren’t the only princesses making their home in Norway. Akerhaus Royal Banquet Hall is a character dining experience featuring princesses that can’t be missed. The mix of Norwegian and classic American bites at the restaurant will please even the pickiest of eaters as a variety of princesses come to your table for meet and greets.
If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, grab a pastry at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe before heading in line for Frozen Ever After. If you don’t have a Fastpass for this ride, prepare to stand in line for a while! Despite being a fast loading ride, the line takes a while to get through. Die-hard Disney classics fans are still fuming over the rebranding of Maelstrom. However, with the popularity of Frozen since its debut, it’s not surprising the ride got a much needed overhaul. When it comes down to it, it’s a water based dark ride that takes you along with Anna, Elsa, Olaf and the gang on their frozen journeys. Unless you have little kids, ride it once to see the great animatronics – otherwise you can skip it.
If you’re looking for the best Chinese food in Disney, don’t look any further than Nine Dragons Restaurant. This table service restaurant has all your favorites – Kung Pao Chicken, Pot Stickers, Vegetable Spring Rolls and so much more. If you’re looking for a faster meal, check out Lotus Blossom Cafe for similar dishes but in a more bite sized package. Mulan is often out and about in this pavilion, and sometimes you’ll find her hanging out with her pal Mushu as well!
There isn’t a ride in this pavilion (or any of the other ones after Mexico and Norway) however there is a short film called Reflections of China. This unique film takes place in a 360 degree theater, meaning the screens are all around you! It truly allows you to explore the beauty of China, without having to leave EPCOT!
As you pass through the “Outpost” area of World Showcase – aka the small section reserved for small representation for African countries – you’ll end up in Germany! This is one of my favorite pavilions, mostly because it’s one of the few countries I’ve actually visited!
As you first enter Germany you might notice Snow White out near her famous wishing well. Lots of delicious food and, most important, CHOCOLATE can be found at this pavilion. Biergarten Restaurant is one of the hidden gems of this park, in my opinion. This German inspired buffet and dinner show will have you up and dancing like you’re at the actual Hofbrauhaus in Munich! If you’re not as hungry as you thought and will settle for a pretzel or bier, check out Sommerfest for some on the go eats instead. The main attraction of this pavilion is the landscaping of a German town square, along with many shops. My personal favorite? Die Weihnacts Ecke, a Christmas shop!
If you’re looking for some of the best Italian food you can get without heading to Italy, then this is the place for you! The Italy pavilion is a foodie’s dream. Gelato stands are scattered around the pavilion, which surrounds a small version of the Trevi Fountain. Tutto Italia Ristorante has comfort food and pasta galore. If you’re just in the mood for a good glass of wine, head over to the Tutto Italia Ristorante wine cellar. In the mood for some pizza? Then Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria is the place to stop by! Naturally, this is an amazing pavilion to visit during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival that takes place every fall.
The American Adventure
A favorite past time of Walt Disney’s was celebrating American history, so naturally an American pavilion opened in World Showcase. While it may seem silly to have a pavilion about America when EPCOT is IN America, this pavilion celebrates the history of our great nation. It’s an awesome place to relive the good old Colonial days of our Founding Fathers. They made sure to include our great nation in EPCOT World Showcase countries, and is a testament to everything our country has gone through in its short history.
The American Adventure is a short crash course attraction showcasing some of the important events in American history. Highlights include the founding of our country during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Great Depression and much more. Afterwards, grab a quick bite to eat at the Liberty Inn counter service restaurant. Here you can have some American classics such as fried shrimp and chicken nuggets.
The American Adventure pavilion also showcases the large soundstage that is the main event stage for many of EPCOT’s festivals.
The Japan Pavilion has some of my favorite shopping areas in all of EPCOT! If you are a fan of Japanese pop culture, including Pokemon, Mario Brothers and Nintendo games, all things matcha flavored and more, you’ll be in heaven here! One of my bucket list items is to travel to Tokyo. I guess this will have to do until I can experience the real thing!
Nestled among the gorgeous architecture inspired by traditional shinto architecture, you’ll find some great Japanese cuisine. Katsura Grill is the perfect place to stop and grab a bite while you plan out your next Fastpass. Teppan Edo, another dining option in the pavilion, is a traditional Japanese steakhouse. If you’ve never been to these famous restaurants where they cook your meal in front of you, there is no better place to try it than Disney!
Morocco is a great example of just how much detail goes in to Disney, specifically the EPCOT World Showcase countries. Not only was the Moroccan royal family actually consulted to make sure the architecture was correct, but the back of the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios – which is visible from this pavilion – was made with a bit of a Moroccan twist in the back of the building so it wouldn’t look out of place! Talk about the tiny details!
Aladdin and Jasmine are usually doing meet and greets in this pavilion. You might even be able to find a magic lamp or magic carpet at the many shops in the pavilion. For a great view of the lagoon and great food, be sure to stop by Spice Road Table for a relaxing sit down dinner. For even more dazzling entertainment, head over to Restaurant Marrakesh. This table service restaurant entertains and delights with belly dancers as you feast on Moroccan food. You’ll feel like you’re truly at sultan’s palace! Not in the mood for a full table service experience? You can still try Moroccan cuisine at the counter service Tangierine Cafe!
One of my FAVORITE Disney snacks are macarons! What better place to pick some up than the France pavilion? For macarons and more delicious French pastries, check out Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. You can also enjoy a bubbly champagne with your pastry, or a fun espresso drink!
For one of the fanciest dining experiences you can find in EPCOT, be sure to check out Monsieur Paul. This is a fine dining experience, so be sure to wear appropriate attire before attending. Here you will find some signature French dishes for a one of a kind dining experience. Chefs de France is a bit less upscale and another great table service option. If you’re just looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, there’s a booth near the entrance to the pavilion selling crepes from this restaurant!
As your food is settling be sure to head over to Impressions de France. This 18 minute film about French culture takes you on a tour of France and showcases the beauty of this European country.
While you might not be able to head to Hogwarts through the United Kingdom pavilion, there’s still tons of fun to be had in this section of World Showcase! There are tons of unique shopping experiences here – if you’re a huge fan of authentic British tea and biscuits, be sure to pick some up here. Alice and her Wonderland friends are also usually meeting guests – sometimes Mary Poppins and Bert are here as well!
What trip to the UK would be complete without fish and chips? For a counter service experience stop by Yorkshire County Fish Shop for a quick bite to eat between pavilions. If you want to experience more tastes from Great Britain, the Rose and Crown Pub is one of my favorite restaurants. They even have a special tea time experience if scotch eggs and stews aren’t your style. If you’re just looking to drink around the world, stop by the beer cart outside the restaurant to sample some of their brews!
Canada is one of the prettiest pavilions of all the EPCOT World Showcase countries, because it captures the uniqueness of this vast country. From native totem poles to the waterfalls of Niagara Falls, you get a feel for all the cultures this country spans within this small section of World Showcase.
The main attraction in this pavilion is the film showcasing the beauty of Canada, aptly titled O Canada! This film is narrated by Martin Short, and has a similar layout to the attraction in the China pavilion. The 360 view screen around the theater completely immerses you in the film as Martin cracks jokes and highlights attractions across the country.
The main dining event in the Canada pavilion is Le Cellier Steakhouse. This fine dining experience (complete with upscale dress code) is one of the most highly regarded restaurants at Walt Disney World. For the best in steak and seafood, be sure to snag a reservation here. Reservations are very hard to come by, so be sure you’re up and ready to go on day 180 to make your reservations!
Coming Soon – Brazil?
Yes, you read that right! Rumor has it that between the Italy and Germany pavilions, Disney will be adding a Brazil pavilion in 2022. This has yet to be announced by Disney, so take this rumor with a grain of salt. It is certainly not inconceivable – there are 8 zones that can be turned in to pavilions at later dates. Is Brazil the first one up? Stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to my email list for updates when information comes out!
There you have it! A complete breakdown of all the attractions, eateries, and more at EPCOT’s World Showcase countries! Which pavilion is your favorite? I think I’d have to go with the Japan or Germany pavilion. However, they all have fun and exciting things to do. Let me know your favorite in the comments below!
If you’re looking for more help, be sure you check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. This guide is updated every year. It has the best information you could possibly ask for when planning a trip to Disney. The authors also compile actual guest reviews of restaurants and attractions. So you know you’re getting an HONEST review of everything – from the resorts to the parks and everything in between! Going to Disneyland? They have a version for that too!
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