Imagine a place where you command a mission into space aboard a shuttle, go back to Ancient Rome while inside a time travel vehicle, dive deep into the ocean in an oversized clam and embark on an adventure aboard a Norwegian vessel. Now envision a place in which you’re immersed in the heritage, culture, customs and architecture of countries all over the world. You visit exquisite art exhibits that take your breath away. You enjoy the feats of a troupe of acrobats, the harmony of a choir and the music of a mariachi band in one afternoon. Such a place does exist, and all inside the gates at EPCOT.
You know EPCOT for its iconic Spaceship Earth, its future-themed attractions and its undercurrent of imagination and space throughout the park. But just past Future World at EPCOT, you can embark on a journey of a different kind entirely inside the World Showcase. Not sure about the best things to see, do and experience inside the World Showcase? Here are eleven tips to help you and your family make the most of your incredible adventure around the world.
11. Meet the characters.
Yes, you can meet characters from your favorite Disney movies on the World Showcase! Meet Donald Duck, clad in his sombrero and serape at the Mexico pavilion, Princess Anna and Queen Elsa at the Royal Sommerhaus at the Norway pavilion, and then head to China, where you can meet Mulan. Step up to the wishing well as you approach the Germany pavilion, and say hello to Snow White. Then head to Morocco to meet Princess Jasmine.
As you continue your journey around the world, you can stop to meet both Belle and Princess Aurora at the France pavilion, and end your “character journey” at the United Kingdom pavilion where you can meet the practically perfect Mary Poppins. But before you leave the UK, be sure to stop in and have tea with Alice in Wonderland too! For character appearance times, check your My Disney Experience app, and arrive 15 – 20 minutes before the scheduled time so you won’t miss your opportunity.
10. Have your (cake, ice cream, baklava), and eat it too!
There are many wonderful things to experience while on the World Showcase, and dessert is absolutely one of them. Or three or four of them. You can enjoy different desserts from all over the world as you walk around the Showcase. Share a funnel cake with someone at the America pavilion, and next door at Italy, enjoy a gelato. Do you like macaroons? What about crème brulee? You can enjoy both at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie inside the France pavilion. And try different flavors of a shaved ice treat inside the Japan pavilion at Kabuki Café, or head to Norway, and enjoy your choice of sweet pretzels, pastry horns or sweet lefse flatbread (or maybe one of each!). There’s no shortage of cures for your sweet tooth all around the Showcase.
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9. Experience Frozen Ever After.
This attraction is one of only two rides on the Showcase, and you don’t want to skip it. It replaces the Maelstrom Viking adventure inside the pavilion at Norway. The track on which your Norwegian vessel rides is similar, but the adventure is completely different and so worth the FastPass+ selection it will cost you to experience this attraction. Take a tour of Arendelle, and see Olaf, Sven, Kristoff, and of course, Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, as you experience the magic of some of Disney’s most amazing and advanced animatronics yet! Just don’t forget to make your FastPass+ selection because the stand-by line gets long for this Norwegian adventure!
8. Take a stroll around the Indoor Market at Mexico.
This really is a hidden gem on the Showcase, and it’s hidden well. At the Mexico pavilion, go up the stairs and inside the pyramid. In front of you, just past the Kidcot tables, you’ll see an open-air market under the stars (though still inside the pavilion) designed to look, sound and feel like the streets of Mexico. Try on a sombrero, shake the maracas, and buy authentic Mexican ceramics, instruments and other souvenirs and merchandise. The magic of Disney will have you believing you’re really in Mexico!
7. Hunt for Kidcots.
Kids of all ages will enjoy this hands-on activity at each of the eleven pavilions on the World Showcase. Each pavilion has its own Kidcot station, so look for a table with the Kidcot signage, and step right up. Meet Cast Members from each of their respective home countries, ask questions about their country, and learn fascinating things from them. Kids can color and get a sticker with a symbol representing that country. It’s fun, it’s educational, and it’s free!
6. See the acrobats in China.
Catch the Jeweled Dragon Acrobatic Troupe as they perform amazing feats several times every afternoon, weather permitting, just in front of the China pavilion. Be amazed as you witness their strength and balance! Their richly detailed and vibrantly colored costumes add to the excitement of the show, which lasts about 20 minutes. You’ll find yourself wondering, “how do they do that?” as they swing, tumble and perform feats that will have you standing up and cheering.
5. Walk the World.
Book the “DestiNations Discovered” tour, and see the world! During this 5-hour walking tour, you’ll get to see some of the backstage magic that makes the World Showcase come alive for Guests at EPCOT. The tour includes lunch at the Rose & Crown Dining Room at the United Kingdom pavilion. No cameras are permitted in the backstage or “behind the scenes” areas, but Guests are encouraged to take pictures during other parts of the tour. The cost is around $110 per adult, and you must be 16 years old or older to enjoy the tour. Annual Passholders receive a 15% discount on the price. To book, you’ll need to call (407) WDW-TOUR, as you’re unable to book online or with the My Disney Experience app.
4. Make the most of your camera and the architecture.
Do you love architecture and dabble in photography? Do you get a thrill from views of beautiful buildings against a backdrop of blue skies and billowy clouds? If so, you’ll have a buffet of picturesque views to photograph all around the Showcase. The buildings that make up each pavilion were designed purposefully, with meticulous attention to detail, and many of the buildings are replicas of actual buildings, monuments and religious centers in their respective countries. When the Morocco pavilion was being designed after EPCOT opened its gates, the King of Morocco even sent his royal craftsmen to central Florida to create the buildings in the pavilion. Exquisite, finite architectural detail is evident throughout the Showcase, and it is amazing!
3. Shop ‘til you drop.
The pavilions representing the eleven countries on the World Showcase not only offer Guests a unique look at each country’s history and culture; they also offer Guests a chance to take a piece of each country home with them. Everything you could imagine (and some things you can’t) can be bought at the shops around the Showcase.
There are genuine Black Forest cuckoo clocks at Germany, as well as Christmas decorations (be sure to ask about the pickle ornaments). At Norway’s pavilion, among other things, you’ll find costumes, clothing and plush toys from Frozen. Inside the France pavilion, you can buy the Eiffel Tower in many forms—on clothing, as a knickknack, on a keychain, Eiffel Towers with Disney characters and Eiffel Towers without Disney characters. You can also purchase cosmetics and fragrances in France.
Are you into Pokémon? There’s a shop for that too, inside the Japan pavilion. And you can take home sombreros, serapes, glassware, painted birds and other ceramics from the Mexico pavilion. With all the unique items available for purchase around the Showcase, you’ll want to buy something from each pavilion. Just remember to ask at check-out to have your items taken to Guest Services for pick-up later, unless you relish the idea of lugging all of your treasures around the Showcase with you.
2. Eat fish and chips at the United Kingdom pavilion.
You’ll need to do this one on your “cheat day” because yes, they’re greasy, and yes, they’re high in calories and fat. But you’re on vacation, after all, and it’s worth it to try them at least once at the Yorkshire County Fish Shop at United Kingdom. “Chips,” of course, is the British name for steak fries. Don’t go during lunchtime in the summer, though, because this quick-service spot is exactly that—a spot, and there is no indoor seating. Seating is located just to the right of Yorkshire County Fish Shop, and in June through August, it’s uncomfortably hot, but when the weather’s nice, so is the view of the lagoon, as well as the breeze.
1. See IllumiNations.
EPCOT’s nighttime spectacular takes place on the World Showcase Lagoon and lasts about 15 minutes. You can see the show from anywhere around the Showcase where you have a clear view of the lagoon. IllumiNations tells the story of Earth in three parts: “The Earth is Born,” “The Triumph of Life,” and “Hope for the Future.” You’ll see balls of fire launched 60 feet in the air as the story is told, and a 350,000-pound globe is used as a video display system. (Note: The globe used in IllumiNations was the first spherical video display system in the world!) This is one of Disney’s best nighttime shows, so get a spot early, and enjoy!
You can spend your whole day at the World Showcase at Disney’s EPCOT and still not see, do or experience all it has to offer. But with these tips, you’ll learn about the rich culture and customs, and be drawn in to the history, of eleven of the most interesting and beautiful countries on Earth, no matter how much time you spend there.