By Sam Howzit (Torii Gate) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Welcome back to our Walt Disney World series! It’s been a couple of weeks, so in case you missed it, definitely check out my previous post on Epcot’s Future World. For those who might be unfamiliar, Epcot is broken up into two main areas: Future World and World Showcase. Today, I am covering everything I did and ate while in Epcot’s World Showcase.
The World Showcase is probably the best thing about Epcot. There are different areas, referred to as pavilions, representing countries around the world that surround the World Showcase Lagoon. The Lagoon is a big lake in the center of the park, making Epcot essentially a big circle. The pavilions include Norway, China, Germany, Morocco, Japan, Italy, Paris, Canada, and England. Each pavilion is uniquely themed to represent and celebrate the culture, architecture, and food of that country. Some are bigger than others, have more food, or also host a ride. Another interesting aspect of the World Showcase is that most of the cast members working at the Pavilions are actually from those countries! It was really cool to meet people from all around the world and hear the various accents.
Since there are limited rides and attractions in the World Showcase, a big part of the experience is just walking around and taking it all in. We tried to make a point to see everything and try at least one food item at each country. While we didn’t quite reach that goal, we sure tried! We’re excited to go back and hopefully get to try even more.
Keep reading for more details about each country and all the food we tried.
By Sam Howzit (Mexico Pavilion at Night) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Mexico Pavilion is quite striking and hosts a giant Mesoamerican pyramid. Upon entering the pyramid, you see a foyer with different displays of Mexican art. Since the Pixar film, Coco, had just come out while we were there, there was a lot of Coco-inspired art, which was beautiful. On the main floor of the pyramid, there are a few shops selling Mexican jewelry and apparel as well as a tequila bar, La Cava del Tequila. This bar has a large collection of tequilas available as well as margaritas and appetizers. We didn’t end up getting anything here, but it looks really fun (and I love tequila) so it’s on our bucket list for next time.
There is also an indoor lagoon, which is part of a boat ride inside the pyramid. Along the lagoon is a very popular Mexican restaurant called San Angel Inn Restaurant. We read that the food is just okay here but that the atmosphere is incredible. Overall, the pyramid was so cool with just such impressive theming and ambiance inside.
Outside of the pyramid, there are a few Mexican restaurants, margarita stands, and counter-service dining. Continuing with the Coco theme, , they also had a mariachi band that performed songs throughout the day from the movie. We got to sit in on one of them, and it was so good. We loved hearing the melodies from the film, and the band was just so talented.
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros is a boat ride inside the pyramid that takes you on a tour of Mexico with the Three Caballeros. Naturally, it gets silly with all of their crazy antics, but it’s a cute ride. It’s definitely nothing groundbreaking, but it was a nice escape from the heat. There were rumors that this ride might get converted into a Coco-themed ride which would be AWESOME. Nothing certain, but since this ride really isn’t anything special, it definitely warrants a retheming.
What I Ate
We got lunch one day at Catina de San Angel, an outdoor counter-service restaurant adjacent to the pyramid. We ordered Nachos ($11.50) and am Ambhar Coconut Passion Margarita on the Rocks ($14.75). Both were delicious, especially the margarita. It was so flavorful and refreshing.
The Norway Pavilion is a Norwegian-themed area of Epcot filled with Norwegian-style architecture, shops, food, and one of Epcot’s most popular rides, Frozen Ever After.
Frozen Ever After
By Theme Park Tourist (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Frozen Ever After is a Frozen-themed dark water ride in the Norway Pavilion that takes you on a journey through Arendelle and Elsa’s ice castle, re-creating scenes from the film Frozen and the animated short Frozen Fever. The wait for this ride is very long, but fortunately we got FastPasses and were able to ride it a couple of times. The ride features animatronics of all the main characters, songs from the movie, and a few fun waterfalls along the way. There is also a point which you go backward as Elsa is forming her ice castle, which is really fun. The line experience is also really beautiful and winds you through an outdoor courtyard in Arrendelle . The ride was a bit of a rush job after the immense success of the film, which feels kind of obvious. It can be quite bare in some spots with little-to-no decor or theming. The animatronics are quite impressive, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the way the human characters’ faces were designed. They essentially use screens for their faces, which make them appear very flat. It doesn’t match the rest of their body, which is a normal animatronic.
With the addition of Frozen Ever After to the Norway Pavilion, there is also quite a bit of Frozen merchandise in the stores. There is also an interesting walk-through museum of sorts, set up in one of the buildings which shows the different cultural and architectural parts of Norway that inspired Frozen. It’s fun to see how it was then incorporated into the film.
There is an ongoing debate about the presence of Disney characters in Epcot, as it wasn’t necessarily intended to be full of characters like Disneyland. But Frozen seems like a fitting addition to this area, and it appears that Disney was truly trying to use it to celebrate Norwegian and Scandinavian culture. It also makes this pavillion probably one of the most popular!
What I Ate
We tried the School Bread at Kringla Bakeri og Kafe which is a sweet cardamom bun filled with vanilla pudding covered with icing and coconut. School Bread is a very popular snack in Epcot, and it’s a pastry, so naturally I was excited to try it. It’s very soft and flavorful with just the right amount of sweetness. However, the cardamom flavor was very strong, which I didn’t enjoy, but that might just be a preference. I probably wouldn’t get it again but was happy to try it. Kringla carries a lot of different types of pastries and snacks 一 all of which looked delicious! This would be a great place to stop if you’re craving a sweet baked treat.
Eric Marshall [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The China Pavilion is a China-themed area which is filled with chinese architecture and gardens, a few restaurants, and one main attraction: a film called Reflections of China. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the video as it was such a busy day and was just too crowded to comfortably enjoy it. They did have some display cases set up in another building, which included details about the making of Shanghai Disney, the newest Disney park that opened in 2017. Since obviously we love Disney parks, it was really interesting seeing some of the concept art, cast member uniforms, and attractions that are now in the brand-new Shanghai park. They also had a few shops filled with home, decor, and apparel items from China for purchase. Overall, the China Pavilion was lovely, and we even got to see Mulan walking around greeting guests!
Lychee Black Tea
What I Ate
We stopped at a small quick-service kiosk called Joy of Tea that serves specialty drinks (including alcoholic ones!) and a few snacks. We ordered an Iced Tea ($4.95), which was a lychee-flavored sweetened black tea. We both love lychee, so we LOVED this and bought one on almost every visit to Epcot. Even in December it can get very hot in Florida, so this tea was heaven. We also got a Curry Chicken Pocket ($4.95) as a snack. We kept seeing people walking away with these, which inspired us to grab one ourselves. I am so happy we did because it was probably one of the best things we ate in WDW! The pastry on the outside is delicious and flaky with a wonderful, flavorful chicken curry filling. Don’t go to the China Pavilion without stopping at Joy of Tea!
By Sam Howzit (Biergarten Exterior) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The German Pavilion is very fun. It’s designed to look like a small German village and hosts a popular restaurant, the Biergarten Restaurant, which provides a buffet of German classics. The restaurant is designed to look like Oktoberfest with live entertainment and beer served in huge steins. We didn’t have plans to eat here on this trip, but we briefly walked through and it looked SO FUN. There were huge plates of food, lots of beer, and great singing and performances going on the entire time. We definitely want to try to go at some point, though the line to get in was huge! There are also a few shops that sell specialty German products, including cuckoo clocks.
What I Ate
Every day we were in Epcot, I would see people walking around with GIANT soft pretzels. As a soft pretzel enthusiast, I had to have one. If you like soft pretzels, you’ll love this because that’s all it is. But did I mention it’s HUGE? So that automatically makes it perfect. We bought it ($9.39) at a small snack cart at the German Pavilion that served these beauties as well as a variety of beer. There are a lot of beer carts in Germany, by the way, as there should be .
By Yarkob [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
The Italy Pavilion is gorgeous, with a large plaza surrounded by buildings reflective of Roman, Venetian, and Florentine architecture. There are several small shops around the plaza filled with Italian products, including perfume, wine, candy, and apparel. There is also a popular restaurant called Via Napoli, which serves authentic Neapolitan cuisine. We tried to get a reservation here but unfortunately couldn’t for our trip. We walked by people dining though, as they have some outdoor tables, and it looked so delicious.
What I Ate
We couldn’t visit Italy without trying gelato at a very, VERY popular gelato stand called Gelati. We ordered a cup of cookies and cream gelato ($6.50) and a Espresso Gelato “Affogato” ($9.75). They were so delicious!! So creamy and flavorful, and the espresso was just wonderful. I waited a really long time in a huge line for this dessert and would do it again. Loved it! The affogato was served so cute, too, using little cookies to make it look like Mickey! I also had a Lemoncello Spritz that I sipped on while walking around Italy which was also delicious. They were being sold at a little pop-up bar for the holidays.
We also had pizza on New Year’s Eve from Via Napoli’s Pizza Window, which was fine. It was just pizza, nothing too special. I did love how airy and thick the crust was 一 the best part of the pizza!
The American Adventure
The American Adventure, as you might be able to guess, is the American Pavilion. It’s composed of a large, single building constructed in a Colonial-American architectural style. In terms of food, the pavilion serves up U.S. classics like … hamburgers and turkey legs. It also has the the American Gardens Theater, an outdoor amphitheater that houses various performances throughout the year.
The pavilion also hosts one of Epcot’s larger attractions, an animatronic stage show of the same name, The American Adventure. Once you enter the main building that American Adventure is located in, you walk through the Hall of Flags, which includes a display of the different flags throughout U.S. history. The show is located in a large theater that you enter after you walk through the hall. The walls of the theater have insets with statues of historical figures as well as famous quotes displayed. The show is hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain as they guide you through America’s history. Different displays arise from the floor of stage with new scenes and animatronics of historical figures explaining and illustrating important moments in American history. I don’t think I have ever seen so many animatronics used in one show, which was probably the most impressive part of the experience. Overall, I found it a bit boring, probably because I am not much of a history buff, but it’s a classic show at Epcot and worth seeing at least once. It had recently closed down for refurbishments, opening back up in February, and I’ve read that the audiovisual elements have all been updated, so I’m sure it’s even better than it was before.
The Japan Pavilion, which features an entrance shaped like a Japanese pagoda, consists of a main courtyard surrounded by buildings constructed in Japanese architectural styles. At the end of the courtyard is a large Japanese castle which hosts Bijutsu-kan, an exhibition gallery that exhibits Japanese art and culture. While we were there, the exhibit was Kawaii Life, which provided a history of Japan’s “Culture of Cute.” We’re somewhat familiar with some of the incredibly cute Japanese characters, like Rilakkuma and Hello Kitty, as well as just the general cuteness Japan applies to products, so it was fun to learn more about the origins and development of the culture and to also learn about characters that were unfamiliar.
The Japan Pavilion also has a large store, the Mitsukoshi Department Store, which sells a variety of novelty products from Japan as well as packaged snacks and drinks. It was full of the cutest stationary, stuffed animals, and apparel. They essentially put cute dogs, cats, animals, or faces on EVERYTHING, which makes it very hard to not just give them all your money. We had to exercise a lot of restraint but ended up buying a couple of notepads with dogs on them as well as some stickers.
What I Ate
The only food we tried in the Japan Pavilion was Kakigori ($5.00), which is Japanese shaved ice topped with a flavored syrup and condensed milk, available at Kabuki Cafe. We got one with strawberry syrup, but rainbow, melon, cherry, and tangerine are also available. It was really tasty! It almost tasted like Froot Loops with the combination of the strawberry and sweet milk. It was cold and refreshing, but it’s pretty messy though because they make it so tall that it comes crumbling down with each spoonful, so be warned.
The Morocco Pavilion was constructed to resemble a city in Morocco. It is the only pavilion that actually had the country’s government involved in the design. It’s beautiful and so detailed. You really feel transported to a town in another country with open-air markets, incredible architecture and design, and the smells of Moroccan food in the air. It is probably the smallest of the pavilions but is so beautiful and ornate that there’s still a lot to see. The Moroccan king at the time actually sent designers to help create some of the mosaics in the pavilion. They have one main sit-down restaurant called Restaurant Marrakesh, which is popular, but we’ve only heard mediocre reviews of the food. You can also visit Aladdin and Jasmine in this pavilion while they are visiting Morocco!
By ckramer from Laurel, MD, USA (DSC_0035Uploaded by LtPowers) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The France Pavilion was gorgeous and themed to resemble a Parisian neighborhood with beautiful fountains and a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. There are several shops lining the neighborhood selling French perfumes, wine, and apparel. There are also several restaurants, cafés, and eateries selling French favorites like crepes, pastries, and ice cream. We were able to find a few Ratatouille products, our favorite Pixar movie, which was really fun. Similar to the China Pavilion, there is an Impressions of France video for guests to enjoy, showing the landscape and culture of France, but we didn’t get a chance to view it. There are also fun street performers, including a chair-climbing and balancing show called Serveur Amusant which includes some silly performers balancing on stacked chairs! Belle and Aurora make appearances in the France pavilion, as well.
We are also excited that they announced recently that a Ratatouille-themed ride (the same one in Disneyland Paris) will be coming to the France Pavilion!
What I Ate
We got a Chocolate Crepe ($4.75) from Crepes des Chefs de France, a small stand serving up fresh crepes in the France Pavilion. We actually got it for lunch for Christmas Day and thoroughly enjoyed it! You can also order it with ice cream, which sounds amazing.
Benjamin D. Esham / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0 us (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
The U.K. Pavilion is designed to resemble a British village and includes English gardens and several cute shops selling British tea, snacks, home products, and apparel. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the U.K., though we enjoyed walking through all of the shops and taking in the village. We did eat at one of their main restaurants though, Rose & Crown Dining, a British pub in the heart of the Pavilion (see below).
What I Ate
We bought a dining package at Rose & Crown that included reserved seating for the Candlelight Processional, a very popular event they put on at Christmas, so it’s highly recommended to get a dining package ($57.00 per adult) if you want to attend. The dining package includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert 一 so we were in for a big meal. The atmosphere of Rose & Crown is really nice. We were able to sit outside overlooking the lagoon at sunset, which was so beautiful.
For appetizers, we got a Scotch Egg ($11.00; I will show how much they typically cost on the menu), which is a fried hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage with mustard sauce, and a Pasty, which was a specialty holiday item and not on their regular menu. I had wanted to try a scotch egg for a while but thought it was just okay. It was fine and tasted decent, but it wasn’t amazing. It kind of tasted exactly how you would expect 一 sausage and eggs! The pasty was also good, but I think because neither Zach or I LOVE British food, we thought it was just okay.
For entrees, we ordered the Chicken Masala Curry ($21.00) and Bangers and Mash ($21.00), which were the recommendations from our server (the service was AMAZING). Both were really good and tasted fresh and homey 一 a very comforting meal.
For dessert, we ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding ($8.00) and another specialty holiday dessert that, for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was, but I remember it was not very good. The Sticky Toffee Pudding was good but not amazing.
Overall, our experience at Rose & Crown was great. We had an excellent server, the ambiance was incredible, and the food was fresh and well-made. I think this is largely due to preference, but we thought the food tasted fine but wasn’t incredible. If you really enjoy British food though, I think you’ll really love Rose & Crown.
By UpstateNYer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
The Canada Pavilion is designed to resemble the Canadian outdoors. It includes a waterfall, gardens, pools, and totem poles. It also hosts a popular restaurant, Le Cellier Steakhouse. We spent very little time in the Canada Pavilion, mostly walking through the shops and meandering around outside. They did have live music, and since it was Christmas time, they were playing upbeat rock ’n’ roll versions of Christmas songs. There is also a video, similar to that of China and France, which provides a scenic tour of Canada, which we didn’t watch. Overall we didn’t spend too much time here, but it was a really nice and scenic area with fun Canada merchandise in the shops.
Overall, we loved Epcot’s World Showcase and it was one of the biggest highlights of our trip. Just walking around and seeing each distinct country is so fun. Since there aren’t many rides or attractions in Epcot’s World Showcase, it’s nice to be able to just walk around and enjoy the park versus running from ride to ride or trying to manage FastPasses. There is also just so much food to try and neat shops to look in — we loved every minute of it! Hope you enjoyed this tour around the world.