Mexico or Canada, Mexico or Canada, Mexico or Canada. The hardest choice a mid-twenty-something will ever have to make while standing at the Epcot map kiosk, next to a twelve year old asking himself, “Future World East or West, East or West?” Fortunately for the young lad, that will be the last of the decision making he will need to do for the day. The parents will take it from there. The “Mexico or Canada” guy however, well, he’s only begun. This whole day will be no easy task for someone who is turned on by the idea of traditional meal styles mixed with traditional drink styles in traditional settings. (Traditional as in the Hollywood sense. But hey, it’s Disney!) Epcot is Walt's Disney for adults; a rebirth of the magical experience for those who have fallen into the pit of adulthood. And we are going to guide you through every bit of the magic.
The Pre-Party: Future World
If you’re a true party goer, then waking up early won’t affect your performance in the later hours. So this may be the first step for you. What’s that, you’re just here for the drinks? In that case, jump down to World Showcase. But for my marathoners... The front of the park (during normal hours) opens at 9am. This includes Future World East and Future World West, and the middle ground between. The drinks don’t start pouring in World Showcase for another three hours, at 11am. Now, if you actually plan on using this time to get some rides in (hey, you already bought a ticket…why not?) then absolutely reserve a fastpass.
A fastpass can be purchased with any park entrance ticket and you use them by reserving a spot in line through the free Disney app. The difference between doing this and just winging it is the difference between doing one ride in three hours or doing four to five rides. Either way you do it, two rides you want to make sure you don’t miss are Test Track and Mission: Space. This will be your first major decision if you’re not using a fastpass because, odds are, you’ll only have time for one if you plan on being at the World Showcase when it opens.
The Party: World Showcase
Alright. It’s 11am and you’re standing in the Showcase Plaza looking out over the water at all the fun to come. This is the famous spot where perhaps your most difficult decision in all the Disney-going experience is made: Do I start in Canada or Mexico? Let’s back up a bit.
If you’re completely unfamiliar, Epcot’s World Showcase consists of 11 countries circling a big lake. Each country literally showcases its traditional style through architecture, dress, music, and prominent features; and serves traditional meals and drinks famous to that specific country. You won’t find too many rides here; however you’re likely to run into a character or two (i.e. Norway is home to the Frozen gals), and there are plenty of shows, sightseeing, and shopping galore. If you can make it til close at 9pm, you’ll catch a nice firework show over the lake depicting the creation of earth.
We broke this trip down to 10 hours, 11 countries, 11 drinks, and 11 appetizers/small meals. If you get the idea, we had a taste of each country, accompanied by at least one of their famous drinks, and a bit of sight seeing--all just under an hour’s time before moving on to the next. A few things to note here… This method saves a ton of headache trying to find a dinner reservation in the park. It also allows you to keep moving and to see as much as possible, picking up small grab-and-go meals and an occasional order-and-seat-yourself break. Eating a small bit of food every step of the way leaves you feeling satisfied the entire day, thus not requiring a traditional dinner. You will also be spreading out your alcohol consumption, and every drink will be accompanied by a bite to eat, which allows you to walk out of the park after 11 drinks rather than crawl out.
So, now you have the basics of Epcot, let’s get back to that question we have managed to avoid so well all this time. We found ourselves struggling to make a decision until we had a brilliant idea: “Why not do both?” So we did.
We did Mexico first on our initial visit and Canada first a few days later. We did give ourselves a few day buffer so as not to dilute this truly scientific experiment. After heavy consideration, Mexico was the winner and here's why… The countries following Mexico, and including Mexico, all seem to have some not-so-standard beverage choices. Frozen margs and sake, to name a few. The specialty drink choices closer to Mexico are some must haves, whereas on the Canada side, they’re still great but not must haves. It seems to be the smarter decision to lead with the whacky, must have specialty drinks rather than end with them following a day of beer and wine.
So here you are, ready to begin. The following is a list of countries in the order you pass through them. All come with a description of everything they have to offer (without spoiling too much for the first timer) and plenty of photos. When trying to find our own guide before we set off to drink around the world, we struggled to find one with detail or one that went beyond a food and drink suggestion list. Our goal with this guide is to offer the most detailed description of each country. We do it, of course, with our personal touch and honest opinion. If you're looking for more of a quick food, drink, and activity list for each country, check this out. Our total cost of the trip is at the bottom. I do not suggest doing this twice in one week for financial purposes.
Food: Make your way to Choza De Margarita on your left. This grab-and-go shack offers a mean selection of meals, including the Taco Al Pastor. $10 Per
Drink: Don’t go too far. You are going to get your drink at the same exact spot and possibly one of the most popular drinks in the entire park: The Frozen Marg. Of course, you have to go with the Fiesta ($11.25 per) which combines all three flavors. There’s a reason the drunken shenanigans usually take place in Mexico. Side note: they heavily frown upon drunkenly climbing the pyramid. No, we didn’t try ourselves.
Things To Do: Mexico is home to one of the very few “rides” in World Showcase. But once on it, you’ll see it's more of a relaxing float down a canal inside a Mayan temple than a true thrill seeker. Also inside the temple/pyramid is a small museum of sorts and plenty of Mexican style street-cart shopping. Outside the temple also holds a bit of shopping, and every once in awhile a fine Mariachi band.
Food: Far bigger than Mexico, you will need to make your way a bit deeper into Norway to get to the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe. We’re all adults here and we all know dessert at approximately 11:50am is what life's all about. The School Bread ($7) is far better than it looks and a great post Marg calmer.
Drink: Before you get to the Kafe, you’ll want to stop at the small beer cart on your way. Here, I got the Aass Pilsner ($10.50). The menu is sure to correct you on your pronunciation of the word, shutting down any fun to be had here. If you are a coffee liqueur person, then you may want to wait until you get to the Kafe for another famous Epcot drink, the Viking Coffee ($11.25).
Things to Do: Frozen fans welcome. Go ahead and meet Elsa and Anna at Royal Sommerhus before taking another relaxing cruise on a viking ship, exploring the world of Frozen. If this seems like a little too much for the brain right now (agreed), just check out the small Thor & Odin exhibit next to the Kafe and then head to China.
Food: Head into the heart of the country and grab a meal at Nine Dragons Restaurant. I must say, this is not too far from your mall food court, but at this point that’s exactly what we’re looking for. Two Pork Egg Rolls ($3.99) and Potstickers ($5.50).
Drink: Even as a beer lover, I still found my way to the specialty drink in China: Plum Wine ($10 per). It’s strong tasting but a good experience, and conveniently found at the same Nine Dragons Restaurant.
Things To Do: This is a major shopping area offering traditional Chinese style items. The shopping here is certainly geared towards adults, as is most shopping in World Showcase. Unique to China, it is also mainly geared toward home decor. And although all the countries have cool architecture and style, China’s is definitely one of the more awe-inspiring. While here, do not miss the 360 degree, 14 minute film in the Temple of Heaven. The film itself is cool, but the experience of being in a theatre like you’ve never seen before is worth every minute.
The awkward middle ground between China and Germany. Was this once a country that they decided didn’t deserve its spot in World Showcase? Or was it just an oddly planned middle ground between two countries? Either way, if you don’t pay close attention, you can easily walk through it without even realizing. On second thought, that's okay. There really isn’t much here other than a bathroom and random refreshment stand and a little shopping. The architecture puts you in some South American Wild West type of setting and we did not count this as a country or place to drink/eat. There is, however, a domestic beer cart and if you happen to find yourself at Epcot during one of their many events/festivals, this is going to be a hotspot filled with shops and exhibits. Now, off to Germany!
Food: Easily one of our favorites of all the countries. There are two different things you can do here… For a more hearty meal, head to the back corner and inside SommerFest Snacks (Imbiss) Bratwurst-Beer-Strudel. Big name, I know. But for a big reason. The Bratwurst (with sauerkraut on it ALWAYS!) ($10.92) is one of the best we have ever had and a great deal of protein at this point in the game. This will certainly be one of the bigger meals we have throughout the day. The other path you can take here is that of dessert, and you have some of the best in this same country. Karamell-Kuche which is home to the Werther's Original Caramel. If you can dream it, they have caramel with it here.
Drink: Easily our favorite beer in the park lives here, and it's at the same spot you will get your Brat. The Schofferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen ($9.25 per). It’s not nearly as sweet or sugary as it may sound. In fact it has great color, great taste, and great aroma. Like most countries, you can get this beer in a souvenir glass (for an additional charge). If a souvenir glass is something you are going to do, this is the country to do it at and beer to do it with.
Things To Do: There isn’t a ton of stuff going on here other than great food and drink. However, you can purchase your traditional Oktoberfest Lederhosen which is important for any upcoming Oktoberfest.
Food: Every country has something to love at Epcot; but where there's a favorite, there has to be a least favorite. Still, Italy is not a place to bypass. This is where you can certainly get your pasta fix for the year. However, to stick to our plan and keep the train moving. We are going to head to the back of the country and stop at Pizza Al Taglio for…well, you guessed it. It’s not the best pizza in the world but it’s a nice, light meal after a hefty Brat and a pretty cool spot to eat ($7.75 per).
Drink: For the true die hard wine lovers, you will not find what you’re looking for at a grab and go eatery in this country. Grabbing a table at a restaurant will be needed to dig deep into the wine offerings, and there are many. For those willing to drink any fermented grape in a glass, you can stay at the same spot we got our pizza…and our Moretti Lager ($9 per).
Things To Do: Italy is a great spot to make up for some lost time and head on to the next after your food and drink. Otherwise, you can catch a mime do his skit towards the entrance of the country.
Food: The Halfway point. Congratulations. You have put some hard work in here and you’re seeing it pay off. America is one of the least exciting when it comes to food which, in this case, is a good thing. After eating our way through half the park, a small break is welcome. Of course, we can’t fully break the cycle, though, so popcorn it is! And you can pick it up at Fife & Drum Tavern ($5).
Drink: You can’t have America without serving Bud Light. And for those who have slightly more respect for beer (sorry, it was said) they also do have a Sam Adams Seasonal ($9.50). If it’s hot out, it may also be time for another frozen drink. In this case, the Frozen Red Stag Lemonade is your go-to ($12.25). A strong drink for being this deep in the day, this is for the true warriors. And as the old America sales pitch goes, “and wait, there's more.” Head to the far side of the country to find your craft beers from brewers throughout the USA. I don’t expect you to choose just one, and neither does Walt, so the flight is offered here so that you can try them all.
Things To Do: There isn’t much shopping to do here but if you have been looking for your wall hanging of the Declaration of Independence, now is your time. You may also catch the 30 minute film on the history and future of America. Take caution on the timing for this film; if you plan to keep following this food and drink tour and hit all counties in one go, this may be too much. There is also a large stage/amphitheatre here that seems to be in use only on select days/events.
Food: You cannot go to Japan and pass up sushi and sashimi. We went with the first shack in the country, the Kabuki Cafe. Of course, don’t go around looking for a sign rocking this name… unless you can read Japanese. Nigri is always a go-to for us when it comes to sushi so we went with the combo ($5.50).
Drink: It goes without saying, but sake was the drink of choice here. Now, we went traditional and kept it hot ($7.00) (the weather was a bit chilly) but the options are endless, from hot to cool to frozen in the form of Italian ice! If you’re looking for a flight of sake, you can find it deeper into the country. It’s a strong drink this late in the game, but it makes the list of the “must have.”
Things To Do: Looking to buy something for the kids? This is your spot. You won’t find a t-shirt that says “my parents drank around the world and left me home” but you will find endless amounts of knicknacks, cartoon/anime toys and products, kimonos, and other kid friendly things here. Also, don’t miss the museum on Japan's “cute culture” at the back of the country. Lastly, the large pagoda offers more than just something to look at. If you wait long enough, you can catch a drumming trio putting on quite the show.
Food: A little different from every other country, Morocco actually covers a whole region when it comes to food and drink. This includes Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon. With that being said, there's one small meal/appetizer that comes out of this region that arguably beats all other appetizers throughout the world: stuffed grape leaves. These can be found at the bar of the Spice Road Table. While we are on the topic of the ruler of all apps, we should also discuss the ruler of all desserts. Baklava is clearly something created by the Greek Gods and when at Epcot in Morocco, you will find it at the beverage and dessert stand at the entrance of the country.
Drink: Our love for baklava had us stopping at the Dessert and Beverage shack at the beginning of the country as soon as we entered. Here, we opted for the traditional Casa Beer ($9) and Red Wine ($8). It wasn’t too long after that we realized we’d forgotten this was the land of “Spice Road’s Signature Sangria,” a staple (much like Mexico's Frozen Marg) for the park. So we doubled up and each got one of these as well ($12.00 per), accompanied by those delicious grape leaves.
Things To Do: Another country on the growing list for favorite architecture. Simply walking around looking at the design of this place can be enjoyable. Being bigger than it looks, you can spend some time here. Basically anything you could buy in the movie Aladin, you can buy here. Gold cups, gold plates, gold jars… you’re expecting a genie to hop out of something at all times and grant you a few wishes. You know that “hippie shop” in your hometown that sells incense and drug rugs? Welcome to the Morocco shopping area.
Food: The sky is beginning to show some colors as the alcohol starts to take a toll on our min… OOOO CREPES! You can’t head into France without having the famous French pancake. Crepes Des Chefs De France has your back on this one, offering a chocolate and banana crepe ($7).
Drink: It’s only a short walk from the crepes where you will find your dink. Les Vins Des Chefs De France offers wines, beers, and slushies. We opted for the French Kronenbourg 1664 Beer ($7) and Beaujolais Duboeuf wine ($7.50).
Things To Do: There are actually a lot of restaurants to be found here. More so than most other countries. Due to the restaurant space, there is a lack of shopping here. However, you can catch a 20 minute film, called Impressions De France. Oh, and be sure to look up and admire the Eiffel Tower.
Food: The UK offers its classic Fish and Chips, but at this point in the day, something about eating breaded fish just wasn’t sitting well. I don’t want to place blame but I also would have a chat with the recent 10 drinks about this matter. The rest of the food on the menu was not very exciting and just wasn’t calling our names. Unfortunately, here is where we failed one task we set out to complete for the day: a meal in every country.
Drink: Unlike the food situation, we remained thirsty throughout the rest of the day and the Brass Ale was a great addition to the stomach ($9), which can be found at the Yorkshire County Fish Shop at the entrance of the country. Or, stop in the Rose & Crown pub and an old English chap will serve you up one hell of a Bloody Mary ($10).
Things To Do: There is more tea here then you could ever imagine, so stock up for the next year. Otherwise, grab yourself a nice photo in the traditional phone-booth and head off to Canada to close out the night.
Food: As an Upstate New Yorker at the time, this is a no brainer. But for those who don’t know, when thinking Canadian food, two things come to mind: poutine and maple syrup. Epcot pulls through on one of these things for us... Head to the far side of the country and stop at the unnamed food cart for Maple Popcorn ($6).
Drink: Don’t travel far from the cart before you grab your last drink of the night. We capped off our night with the Moosehead Draft ($9).
Things To Do: Another quick country with not much going on, but be sure to check out the waterfall in the back and immerse yourself in the Canadian alpine terrain Epcot has created for you here. They certainly took a very native theme with this country and that's not a complaint. This is also home to the best clothing article in the park and the perfect thing to bring home and wear for the night: the flannel, moose printed onesie.
THE TOTAL COST: $275.66
The cost is for two people having minimum, one of their own drinks in each country. Every meal was shared.
So you made it; 11 countries, 11 drinks, and if you did better than us, 11 meals. There is no one way to do Epcot, but we sure feel this is one hell of a good path. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did and if there's one last tip we can give you, be sure to go back on a day they are hosting a festival. One of the days we went, they were hosting the International Flavor Festival. The photos below show some of the unique flavors, however we did not add any specific festival meals/drinks in the above info, as that would not be a typical option.