I love visiting Epcot, to me it feels like a city park where I can stroll around and take in the sights & sounds (plus the attractions). The World Showcase portion of the park is particularly nice to take your time and enjoy. I particularly like going in the evenings to catch some entertainment, eat some delicious food and just take in the atmosphere. Many times I think people miss some of what the World Showcase has to offer so I wanted to break it down for each pavilion.
Mexico is one of the most intriguing of the World Showcase pavilions. Outside you encounter a giant Mesoamerican pyramid which you enter to enjoy most of what it has to offer. The atmosphere is that of an outdoor market at night, so it has some great effects inside.
- Attraction: Mexico is home to one of only two rides in all of World Showcase, The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. This cute boat ride is a slow moving journey through scenes from Mexico searching for everyone’s favorite Duck, Donald. Usually you can walk right up and onto the ride—unless there is a rain storm outside and everyone has moved inside to seek shelter. While this isn’t necessarily a must-do I recommend it!
- Food: It is hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy Mexican food, and the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot has several option to satisfy your hunger and thirst. Outside along the World Showcase promenade you’ll find the quick service option La Cantina de San Angel and a sit down restaurant La Hacienda de San Angel. Both serving up great Mexican favorites. One of the most popular Mexico stops is also just outside the pyramid, Choza de Margarita—the frozen Margarita stand. Inside is another table service option, San Angel Inn along with the fan favorite La Cava del Tequila serving up small plates and lots of tequila options. With everything named “San Angel” it can get confusing so just do a double check of menus before booking dining reservations to make sure you are at the one you want.
- Shopping: The interior of the pyramid is set up as a market in the evening. There you will find lots of kiosks set up selling Mexican inspired wares. My favorite part is probably the hand carved and brilliantly painted spirit animals. They make such a unique souvenir. You’ll find clothing, jewelry, food items, housewares and more. Some is actually from Mexico, and some is inspired by the Three Caballeros and the Epcot Mexico Pavilion. Outside is another small shopping area with Mexican souvenirs.
- Entertainment: Outside the Mexican pavilion you can find performances by Mariachi Cobre—a great and entertaining mariachi band playing traditional favorites along with some recent songs made popular by the film Coco. Inside you can sometimes catch the carver making the spirit animals.
- Characters:In Mexico you can not only find Donald Duck in the attraction, but also as a character hosting a meet & greet. Normally he is outside just past the pavilion (if you are headed clockwise toward Norway). In inclement weather he may move inside near the fountain. He is dressed in his sombrero and serape for a nice photo op.
- Exhibits:Mexico has some changing exhibits, but currently the exhibit in the entrance area is focused on Dia de Los Muertos and the art that goes with that as inspired by Disney/Pixar’s Coco. Inside you will learn more about the holiday as well as see artwork and ofrendas.
- Activities: Mexico is host to one of the Agent P World Showcase Adventure Missions where you use your smart phone to help Perry the Platypus (Agent P) foil the crazy scheme of Dr. Doofenschmirtz. You access these through the Play Disney Parks app. Mexico also has the Kidcot stations that you’ll find throughout the World Showcase. You get a card from each country with some facts and an image to color on the back. The Cast Member normally draws something on it as well. You’ll get a sticker for that country & at your first stop you’ll pick up a Ziploc bag “suitcase” to carry them in. Both of these are great options for kids.
Norway is a beautiful pavilion of both architecture and natural spaces, and the popularity has grown with Frozen.
- Attraction: Norway is home to one of the most popular Epcot attractions, Frozen Ever After. Here you take a boat ride past your favorite Frozen characters and through some of your favorite Frozen songs. While it is slow moving for the most part, there is a tiny little hill. This is one you need to go to immediately at rope drop (park opening)—like be at the park 30-45 minutes before opening to be at the front of the pack, FastPass it, or book the Frozen Dessert Party to get to ride after watching Illuminations.
- Food: In Norway you will find Akershus, a popular character meal featuring Disney royalty. There is a variety of princesses here, but no Anna or Elsa. The meal has some Norwegian foods along with some things that are friendlier to all appetites. Norway also has a bakery which is currently under refurbishment with a replacement kiosk on the promenade. The bakery features some great sandwiches along with sweet Norwegian favorites like School Bread and Lefse.
- Shopping: Inside the Pavilion you will find a sting of shops that feature Norwegian goods like Helly Hansen clothing, the popular Laila perfume, and food. Then you’ll also find tons of Frozen themed items, and other souvenirs like Viking hats. On the other side of the pavilion is another shop with mostly Frozen merchandise.
- Entertainment: In Norway you can find a couple of roaming Vikings who interact with guests offering all kinds of amusing entertainment.
- Characters: Aside from the princesses making the rounds at the Akershus restaurant, you can also meet Anna & Elsa in Norway. And it is the only place at Walt Disney World where they are available to meet you & sign autographs. Located in the Royal Sommerhus, this formal meet and greet is filled with amazing details from the sisters’ summer house in the queue—it is almost as entertaining as actually meeting them.
- Exhibits:The Stave Church hosts changing exhibits in Norway. It is small, but worth a walk through to check out.
- Activities: Norway has a Kidcot Station located in the main shopping area.
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The third country we encounter going clockwise around the lagoon is China. This pavilion stands out with its colorful architecture and amazing details.
- Attraction: China is home to one of the Circle Vision 360 films in World Showcase. Reflections of China is a sweeping production surrounds you with scenes from China to teach you more about the country, its natural beauty and its culture. Warning: If you are susceptible to motion sickness you may have to close your eyes.
- Food: Like Mexico, Chinese food is a favorite of many people. In the Chinese pavilion you’ll find a table service restaurant, Nine Dragons serving up good Chinese food. There is also a quick service restaurant, Lotus Blossom Café inside the pavilion along with a kiosk The Joy of Tea on the promenade.
- Shopping:The House of Good Fortune store in China is massive. You can find Chinese silks and clothing; jewelry including jade & coral; toys; footwear; housewares and other souvenirs like good luck charms. You will also find some kiosks outside selling souvenir type items like marionettes and Chinese games.
- Entertainment: China is home to one of my favorite World Showcase live entertainment options, the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats. These talented and flexible young people perform some amazing feats and they are so much fun to watch.
- Characters: In China you will find Mulan meeting guests, normally outside along the path by the pond. But, in inclement weather she may move inside.
- Exhibits: The main building in the China pavilion is home to the film as well as an exhibit space. The exhibits change (Shanghai Disney resort is a current feature).
- Activity: China has both a Kidcot station and an Agent P World Showcase Adventure Mission.
BONUS – The Outpost
Think of the Outpost as just a bonus spot, themed to Africa as it’s technically not considered one of the 11 Epcot Pavilion. Here you will find some snacks with outside seating, some World Showcase Merchandise, and some African merchandise—my favorites are the hand carved pieces.
Germany is one of my favorite pavilions, it just feels so quaint a idyllic . . .like a Bavarian fairytale.
- Attraction: Unfortunately Germany is not home to any attractions like a film or ride.
- Food: Fortunately, Germany is home to some excellent food. You’ll find a table service buffet, Biergarten inside the pavilion. This Oktoberfest themed restaurant serves up all of the German fare you care to eat, complete with entertainment from an Oompah Band. Once you enter it is like you’ve gone back outside again to an actual outdoors biergarten in the evening. You’ll also find a couple of quick service kiosks around the pavilion serving up bratwurst, pretzels, and of course beer. Part food, part shopping, the Karamell Kuche sponsored by Werther’s is a fantastic place to stop for a sweet treat whether it is freshly popped caramel corn or a chocolate caramel candy. Yummmm.
- Shopping: My favorite shop in Germany is probably the Christmas shop filled with all kinds of beautiful ornaments. You’ll also find a wine shop, a crystal arts shop (where you’ll sometimes catch a glass blower), a toy shop, a wine & beer shop, and some traditional German items like steins, cuckoo clocks, and even lederhosen.
- Entertainment: Entertainment in Germany is pretty much limited to what you’ll experience if you dine inside the Biergarten.
- Characters: Germany is home to Snow White! Her meet & greet is the side of the pavilion closest to the Outpost as you approach.
- Exhibit: Part exhibit, part entertainment, Germany is where you’ll find the miniature train set. It was originally installed as part of a Flower & Garden Festival, but it was such a fan favorite that they’ve kept it around. I know my family can’t walk by without making a stop.
- Activity: Germany has both an Agent P Mission and a Kidcot station. The Kidcot station is in the Toy Shop area of the stores.
Italy is a beautiful pavilion that reflects Venice, I just always wish there was more there.
- Attraction: Italy does not have an attraction like a film or ride.
- Food: As it should be, food is where the Italy Pavilion Shines. You have two table service options here, the more formal Tutto Italia and the more casual Via Napoli. Both serve up great Italian food with Via Napoli featuring wood fired pizza with authentic Neapolitan ingredients. Tutto Gusto is a wine bar that features small bites along with a great selection of Italian wines. Out of the promenade is Gelati, a kiosk serving gelato.
- Shopping: Stores line both sides of the Italy pavilion. You can find perfumes, bags, Murano glass, Venetian Masks, wine and more in the shops.
- Entertainment: Italy features a lively & upbeat show with Sergio. Sergio is part mime, part juggler and he presents an interactive show multiple times per day that relies on audience participation. It is a fun show to watch.
- Characters: Italy does not have a character meet & greet (but I’m secretly hoping for Pinocchio).
- Exhibit: There isn’t a formal exhibit in Italy other than the Venetian masks.
- Activity: Italy doesn’t host an Agent P mission, but it does have a Kidcot station. Normally the Kidcot is located somewhere on the right hand side of the pavilion if you are facing the back of the pavilion.
6. American Adventure
The American Adventure Pavilion (United States) is the host country of the World Showcase, hence its position at the center back of the promenade around the World. The architecture here is reminiscent of colonial America in Philadelphia or Williamsburg.
- Attraction: The American Adventure is the namesake attraction of the pavilion. This massive stage production tells the story of America’s history with an optimistic eye toward the future. It is a very impressive show featuring audio animatronics combined with video. It is a bit lengthy, but a must-see for the staging as well as the story.
- Food: The food is where America lets me down a little bit. The main restaurant is quick service and while it has ample seating and great choices for pickier eaters, I wish that it featured some more variety. There are also quick service kiosks around the pavilion serving funnel cakes, pretzels, American beers, ice cream and turkey legs.
- Shopping: America probably has the least amount of shopping opportunities of all of the World Showcase countries. There is a small shop adjacent to the show building featuring items of Americana, American history, and that feature the pavilion from the showcase. Outside are kiosks that sometimes feature special event items.
- Entertainment: My most favorite World Showcase entertainment is found here—the Voices of Liberty. This acapella group performs in the rotunda prior to show times (pick up a times guide so you don’t miss them). They present American folk songs and other traditional medleys and they are beyond amazing in their talent. This pavilion also features the America’s Garden theater where seasonal performances take place like the Broadway performers during the International Festival of the Arts, Eat to the Beat Concerts during the Food & Wine Festival, and the beloved Candlelight Processional during the holidays (among others).
- Characters: America, like Italy, doesn’t have a character meet & greet. Here I would suggest they add Pocahontas and Meeko.
- Exhibits: America features one of the best exhibits in World Showcase, a changing gallery featuring topics in American history inside the lower level of the rotunda. Currently there is an exhibit on American Indian Art in the American Heritage Gallery. Interactive displays along with the artifacts make this a great stop on your World Showcase tour.
- Activities: There is a Kidcot station in the American Adventure pavilion (just outside the shop), but no Agent P mission.
The Japanese pavilion calls from across the World Showcase Lagoon with its red torii gate, and once you get inside the architecture is impressive—only overshadowed by the peaceful gardens (in my opinion).
- Attraction: There is no attraction in Japan.
- Food: If you love Japanese food, you are in luck. The Japan pavilion features several dining options for you. There is the quick service Katsura Grill has great Japanese dishes that you can get served at the counter and take outside to eat surrounded by the beauty of the gardens. Teppan Edo features hibachi or teppanyaki cuisine where it is prepared on the grill right in front of you in a very entertaining way. Tokyo Dining is table service with a great view and great variety of Japanese dishes. Disney has also announced a signature dining experience is on its way to the Japanese pavilion. Kiosks are also around to get tasty treats like Kaki Gori (Japanese shaved ice).
- Shopping: In Japan you will find the humongous Mitsukoshi Department store—just like its counterparts in Japan. You will find popular merchandise like Hello Kitty and Pokemon. Japanese clothing, shoes and socks. Japanese table ware. Japanese snacks. Gorgeous pearl jewelry, and the very popular Pick A Pearl where you pay to choose an oyster which is opened in front of you to reveal your very own pearl.
- Entertainment: Matsuriza is the name of the traditional Taiko drummers who perform multiple shows each day. You can hear their rhythms from around the World Showcase and they make for an entertaining stop in Japan when they are performing.
- Character: There are no characters in Japan.
- Exhibits: The Bijutsu-kan Gallery hosts changing exhibits. The current exhibit details Japan’s “cute” culture or Kawaii. This is interesting to say the least to see how this culture evolved in Japan.
- Activities: Japan plays host to an Agent P mission, along with having a Kidcot station (normally located at the back of the pavilion near the entrance to the gallery).
The Morocco Pavilion is completely immersive. As the King of Morocco was heavily involved in the pavilion’s design and details, it has a very authentic feeling.
- Attraction: The Morocco Pavilion does not host an attraction
- Food: Morocco offers several food options for fans of Mediterranean and North African cuisine—but don’t worry, there are plenty of options here for everyone. The Restaurant Marrakesh is a table service option that gives diners wonderfully spiced menu options, and offers entertainment with belly dancers. Spice Road Table is another great offering that is situated outside on the World Showcase Lagoon (a great spot to watch Illuminations if you time it right). Spice Road Table serves small plates tapas style. The Tangerine Café gives guests a quick service option with favorites like shawarma. There is also a grab and go style bakery for yummy baklava and some specialty drinks served at another kiosk on the promenade.
- Shopping: Since the Morocco pavilion is set up as a bazaar it is a fantastic place to get a little lost and do some shopping. You can find all manner of Moroccan items from jewelry to clothing to your very own fez. One fun thing to do here is to stop by and get a henna tattoo. You can find many truly beautiful things in this pavilion.
- Entertainment: Morocco is home to Sahara Beat, a live band that plays Moroccan music outside along the promenade.
- Characters: Since we are in Morocco you can meet Jasmine (and sometimes Aladdin) here. And they have a fantastic backdrop inside for your photo op.
- Exhibit: In addition to the Moroccan architecture being an exhibit in itself, there are changing exhibits of Moroccan artifacts and art.
- Activity: Morocco doesn’t have an Agent P Mission, but there is a Kidcot station—normally back in the shops near the character meet and greet.
Just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco is the France pavilion—a quintessentially French looking pavilion featuring architecture of the Belle Époque, including the Eiffel Tower.
- Attraction: France has a beautiful film, Impressions de France. Unlike China and Canada, this is a “normal” film on a screen with theater seating. The images are beautiful, but the musical score is my favorite part. And coming soon to the France pavilion is the Ratatouille ride!
- Food: Of course in France you can expect plenty of Food & Wine. The signature restaurant Monsieur Paul presents a fine dining experience in French cuisine. Les Chefs de France is a more casual table service eatery that serves delicious French dishes. Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie may be my favorite spot in World Showcase to eat. This quick service stop offers sandwiches, quiches, cheese plates along with so many delicious pastries. Grab a tray & pick a few! There is L’Artisan des Glaces where you can find amazing ice cream options. And on the promenade you’ll find two kiosks you don’t want to miss—here you will find the legendary Grand Marnier and Grey Goose Slush and delicious crepes.
- Shopping: France features shops with Parisian souvenirs, wines, French Country kitchen items, and of course a large shop of French Perfumes.
- Entertainment: The Live entertainment in France is sort-of legendary. Serveur Amusant is a fun act with a waiter who ends up stacking up a lot of chairs that he has to climb . . .you can’t miss this one.
- Characters: France is sort of the jackpot of characters in World Showcase. Princesses in films set in France make appearances: Belle out by the water of World Showcase Lagoon (in her blue dress) and Sleeping Beauty is over by the gardens.
- Exhibits: France doesn’t feature any exhibits.
- Activity: You can find an Agent P mission in France along with a Kidcot station. The Kidcot is in the back part of the Pavilion near the exit of the film, in the souvenir shop and near Les Halles.
10. United Kingdom
The footprint of the United Kingdom feels so large to me. Once you cross into it you find buildings representing different eras and regions on both sides of the “street” and it all flows seamlessly.
- Attraction: The United Kingdom doesn’t have an attraction
- Food: The UK features some great pub style grub. The table service Rose & Crown dining room offers great traditional British cuisine, and it also has a great view of Illuminations if you are seated in the right place at the right time. The pub gives you a chance to sample some food as well and get a few traditional drinks. Outside you’ll find the quick service window Yorkshire County Fish Shop—if you are looking for fish & chips this is the place!
- Shopping: Shopping in the UK pavilion is really fun! There is a shop where you can find all of the tea and tea accessories you could want. There are shops that carry gorgeous Irish sterling silver jewelry and other accessories. There is a toy shop, and a shop with British pop culture items (think Beatles, Dr. Who, Rolling Stones, etc. And one of the most unique shops is one that features Coats of Arms so that you could get one printed for your family’s surname.
- Entertainment: The entertainment in the UK is one of the most, well, entertaining. Back in the “park” section of the pavilion near the hedge maze is a gazebo where the British Revolution performs. They feature all kinds of British rock music and put on a really great show.
- Characters: I guess the UK rivals France for character appearances. Alice and Mary Poppins appear daily near the garden (check a times guide for when they appear).
- Exhibit: There is not an exhibit in the United Kingdom pavilion.
- Activity: In the United Kingdom you can participate in an Agent P Mission as well as Kidcot. The Kidcot station is normally located in the Toy Store section.
The Canadian pavilion serves as the other gateway to the World Showcase opposite of Mexico. I love how the combine the natural beauty of the Rockies, the native art of the Pacific coast area, the manicured gardens of Victoria and the architecture of Quebec into one cohesive pavilion. Be sure you walk all through the pavilion to take it all in (don’t just pass by on the promenade on your way to Le Cellier).
- Attraction: Canada features O Canada! CircleVision 360 film hosted by Martin Short. Like the film in China this surrounds you with moving pictures highlighting all that Canada has to offer visitors—accompanied by the Short’s humor.
- Food: The Canadian Pavilion’s claim to fame is Le Cellier, a signature dining steakhouse that features beloved dishes like filet mignon with mushroom risotto and cheddar cheese soup that bring guests back over and over again. Set in a wine cellar it is a respite from the Florida sun and heat. There are some kiosks around the pavilion selling things like maple popcorn. And if you walk a little past the country you can find their signature poutine at the Refreshment Port.
- Shopping: You can’t walk very far in Canada’s shops without stumbling upon a moose or some lumberjack buffalo check plaid. The shops in Canada feature lots of maple foods, comfy and warm clothing and some really cute merchandise featuring Canada.
- Entertainment: The live entertainment in Canada seems to come and go on a regular basis. There is a permanent stage set up outside on the promenade, The Mill Stage. There is currently a schedule of about 4 groups who will perform for limited times from now through the end of the year.
- Characters: No characters in Canada, but I remember a time when Brother Bear characters met guests here—let’s bring them back!
- Exhibit: Canada doesn’t really feature an exhibit unless you count the recreated Victoria Gardens.
- Activity: There isn’t an Agent P Mission in Canada, but you can find the Kidcot Station down past the Victoria Garden (usually). If you walk just past the pavilion and past the Disney Vacation Club kiosk there is currently a little walk through kids’ activity about tracking animals and finding footprints—it has a Canadian feel to it.
During special festivals throughout the year you can learn and experience even more as each country participates in their own way. For instance, during the International Festival of the Holidays, each country has a storyteller or other representation to present their cultural holiday customs.
The World Showcase pavilions are always evolving and changing, but they present a great snapshot of a country’s culture and traditions that you may not otherwise be able to experience.