Epcot was the park at visiting Walt Disney World that everyone said I would like the least. People told me there wasn’t much to do besides eat, and that there were no rides, and that a half-day was more than enough time to see and do everything in the park because it wasn’t very fun. I’d never been there as an adult, and I’m a big believer in forming my own opinions, so I went to Epcot with an open mind, and I had so much fun! I couldn’t believe people thought it was boring. I had a blast photographing the ornate details of the buildings, trying new foods and drinks, wandering through the little themed shops, and seeing the differences at the park between daytime and nighttime. If you’ve heard Epcot is boring, I’m here to change your minds!
Originally Published March 22, 2021
Updated May 18th, 2021
Maybe I’m excited about it because it’s a travel-themed theme park, which is clearly right up my alley, or maybe it’s because I don’t like when things aren’t given a fair shake, but either way, I’m sharing all of the fun things to see and do in each region of the park, along with my favorite foods to eat and drink at Epcot, as well as a few fun facts about various regions. I hope this encourages you to spend some quality time at Epcot on your next trip to Walt Disney World!
This first post will focus on the World Showcase section of the park. The second, forthcoming post will focus on the other half of the park that has 7 additional rides. As I outline the countries below, I will also list my favorite foods in the World Showcase. If a country doesn’t have a favorite foods list, it’s because I haven’t eaten there – yet!
What is Epcot?
Epcot, which stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”, was Walt Disney’s passion project after he built Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Epcot has a central lake, which is surrounded by 11 representations of different countries from around the world. Inside of each are themed dining areas with themed food and drinks from each country, unique souvenirs and shopping areas selling things from that specific country or region, and of course representations of Disney characters related to each country.
Epcot is considered a more “adult” park, because there is alcohol in each country, and drinking at Epcot is much more accepted than it is in other parks. In fact, “drinking around the world” is one of the most popular things to do at Epcot, where people go from country to country and try drinks in each area of Epcot. There are also currently only three rides in Epcot, which means it isn’t as enticing to children from a ride standpoint.
Which Countries Are Represented in Epcot?
There are 11 countries represented at Epcot, and I’ll share everything I know about each below, along with what to eat and drink in each location as well as any interesting facts I know about each. Each section of the 11 countries along the water is the same amount of frontage, and their tallest buildings are all limited to the same height, so each country is represented equally.
The primary building in the Canadian section of Epcot is the mansard-roofed Victorian-style “Hotel du Canada”, which is inspired by the real hotel in Ottawa, Canada called Chateau Laurier by Fairmont Hotels. The adjacent gardens and cottage are inspired by Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, Canada. In Canada at Epcot, guests can find Canadian wines & beers, cheese soups, and more.
Favorite Foods in Canada
Canada has a steakhouse that I did not visit because I do not eat meat. I did however share the Popsicle Trio with my friends, and it was perfect for sharing! About the 3″x1.5″, the popsicles are small enough to help you avoid eating too much sugar while still cooling you down. The pink one was the one I tried, the raspberry-mint, and it was fruity, creamy perfection! The left was coconut lime, and the right striped popsicle was honeydew flavored.
The first thing guests of China will notice as they enter this section of Epcot is the triple-arched gate, styled after the Temple of Heaven’s main gate in Beijing. Incredible details cover the right and left buildings, and the attention to detail in the reflection pond is phenomenal.
Near the pond is a red arch bridge, a footpath, a bamboo grove, and a sitting area that was completely empty the entire time we ate our food there. It’s a very peaceful area and a great place for anyone who might need a bit of rest.
Inside the round building, Reflections of China features information about the Disney resort and parks in China, as well as costumes and uniforms worn by park staff in China, which are really different from the American theme parks. Guests can also watch a short film with footage from various places around China, like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and more.
Favorite Foods in China
The Papas Cakes were filled with shrimp & water chestnuts, served with house-made strawberry sauce. These cakes were delicious and such an interesting combination of flavors. Everyone in our group loved these!
I love pineapples, and I love Tajin, so this combination for the Pineapple Skewer with Tajin Seasoning, especially on a hot day, really hit the spot! I could have eaten these all day long haha.
France at Epcot is complete with a 1/10th scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, gardens reminiscent of the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, as well as shops to purchase perfume from Guerlain, French wines, and of course macarons. Characters & movies represented in this area are of course Beauty and the Beast and Ratatouille.
When we walked over the Pont des Arts-inspired footbridge from the United Kingdom, the view looking over towards France was reminiscent of the views over the Seine River in Paris, which was such a detailed view. I think this region of the park is one of the prettiest, and although our trip to Paris for my birthday last year was postponed, I think this was a nice Aperçu of what Paris might have in store for us.
I found that the lines for everything in the France Pavillion, at least during our visit, were the longest, and this area had the most people taking photos in it, since it’s one of the most beautiful areas of the parks, particularly with the abundance of pink dahlias in bloom.
There are several restaurants here, including Les Chefs de France, L’Artisan des Glaces (ice cream & baked goods), Monsieur Paul, a more upscale dinner option, and at the end of the year, a crêpe shop will be opening in France, assuming it hasn’t been delayed by the pandemic.
Favorite Foods in France
The La Vie en Rose Frozen Slushy, Macaron au Chocolate en Sucette, and Tarte aux Oignons Caramélisés et Chévre were all delightful. I couldn’t eat the goat cheese tart, but my friend who did said it was phenomenal.
The German area is one of the most popular drinking spots because Germany is famous for its beer. During normal times, they have polka bands playing music here, and the façades of the buildings are lovely, with lots of details that look like castles, which is reminiscent of traditional German architecture.
The section representing Italy at Epcot is a lovely blend of inspiration from Rome, Venice, and beyond in Italy. Paying homage to St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, there is an 83′ tall bell tower with a gold leaf-covered angel on top, making it the perfect example of Walt Disney World’s attention to detail. Moreover, the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival was in full swing during our visit, so there were beautiful floral displays all over the country, making it even more lovely than normal. This section also had gorgeous canals, gondolas, and a recreation of the Trevi Fountain.
The representation of Japan at Epcot was one of my favorites because it reminded me of our incredible adventures in Japan. There was also an awesome shop, the largest we went into, modeled after the world’s oldest department store, Mitsukoshi Department Store, which had things exactly as we saw in Japan, with imported candies, teas, drinks, anime products, and lots of other items from jewelry and t-shirts to fans, Japanese books, and hanami supplies.
There’s a massive red Torii gate that stands between the water and the Japan section of Epcot, and during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, there was a beautiful dragon topiary next to it. The barnacles at the bottom of the gate are reminiscent of the Torii gate in Miyajima where the tide comes and goes, but at Epcot, as there is no tide in the man-made body of water, the tide looks as though it’s perpetually out to sea.
Other intricate details in Japan include stone bridges, a koi pond, maple trees, a collection of bonsai, massive stone lanterns, paper lanterns strung outside of restaurants, and bamboo groves, as well as other flowering plants and trees native to Japan that have thrived in Florida‘s warm climate.
Favorite Foods in Japan
The Tokyo Sushi Combo from Katsura Grill consisted of Tuna, salmon, and shrimp + California rolls, and it was delicious. We also shared the vegetable roll, which was great too.
I have always wanted to try Shaved Ice, so when I saw it at a food stand just outside of the pagoda in the Japan Pavillion, I convinced my friends to share it with me. It was so good, but definitely too much for one person to eat by themselves. The blue raspberry flavor was so refreshing! Did you know that shaved ice, a popular Japanese summertime treat, which differed from snow cones that use crushed ice, is very popular in Hawaii because of Japanese immigrants who came to the United States? Because they brought their culture with them to the USA, there’s now shaved ice in Orlando, Florida. Isn’t that such an awesome example of our interconnectedness?
Frushi, which is Sushi made of fruit, topped with strawberry sauce and whipped cream, was something my husband really wanted to try from the Hanami Stall just outside of Japan. It would have been really cool branding opportunity if they had arranged it into a Mickey Mouse shape.
The Okonomiyaki Fries from Katsura Grill were amazing. They consisted of French fries topped with standard okonomiyaki toppings like bonito flakes, Kewpie mayonnaise, Okonomi sauce, and seaweed flakes. These were fantastic, and I’m not usually a fan of fries, but I do love Okonomiyaki, so this was the perfect introduction to french fry toppings for me!
Home of the second of the 3 rides inside the World Showcase at Epcot, this one a water boat ride that takes guests through San Angel Inn Restaurant, inside of the Mayan pyramid. Robin & I, along with our two best friends, ate inside the perpetual twilight restaurant at San Angel Inn Restaurant, and I can’t say enough wonderful things about this place. The avocado margaritas, which were recommended to me by Theresa at Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s Spa, truly were a delight!
Fun Fact: The King of Morrocco at the time Epcot was built was so excited to have Morocco represented at Epcot that he not only paid for the building of this entire section, but he also sent Moroccan builders to build the replica country so that it could be as authentic and as beautiful as possible.
This section of Epcot is one of the most intricate, and the King of Morocco’s attention to detail and pride in his homeland is evident to all who visit. I could have spent hours here admiring the intricate details of each corner of this pavilion. It’s truly splendid!
Favorite Food in Morrocco
The Lemon Magdalena Cake from Taste of Marrakesh was my husband’s favorite dessert around the park. It’s not gluten-free, so I wasn’t able to eat it, but it certainly looked and smelled wonderful.
The Taste of Marakesh also offered Shakshuka, pictured left below, which is Moroccan baked eggs in a spiced eggplant and tomato stew. It’s gluten-free if you don’t eat the pita bread that comes with it, and it was so tasty! The middle is Moroccan Seafood Couscous with shrimp, mussels, olives, preserved lemon, and anchovy breadcrumbs. I couldn’t eat this one because it wasn’t gluten-free, but my friend said it was her favorite dish in all of Epcot, so I had to include it here. Plus, the presentation of it was lovely. The right dish pictured below, the Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer with steamed rice and coconut-lime sauce, was phenomenal. It was from La Isla Fresca between Morocco and France, but because it’s more of a Moroccan dish, I’m including it here.
Did you know that Norway is the newest pavilion added to the World Showcase? It was added about 4 years after Epcot’s last pavilion opening. The opening of the Norwegian region was even attended by members of Norway’s royal family, including their prince. Frozen & Frozen II’s popularity pushed Walt Disney World to update this region in recent years, and include one of Epcot’s most popular rides, Frozen Ever After. For 10 years from 1992-2002, Norway’s tourism board & federal government invested around $200,000 USD per year in upgrades and maintenance as they deemed it an excellent investment to promote visiting Norway.
My husband’s family is partially from Norway, so this pavilion is one of his favorites. The grass rooves, Stave Church Gallery (which showcases Norwegian culture and mythology), and different Scandanavian architectural styles are all very beautiful. The Kringla Bakeri og Kafé has something called school bread, which my husband and his best friend devoured before I could take photos of, which is a huge compliment to the bakery!
Representing the 4 countries of the United Kingdom, Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland, this pavilion showcases classic UK food, drinks, and replica architecture, like red Gilbert-Scott phone booths. There’s even a hedge maze near the bridge to the Skyliner area, where characters like Mary Poppins sometimes hang out.
The most popular draw in this area, food and drink-wise, is the Rose & Crown pub, which is a full bar that can make just about anything. It also serves British & European craft beers. Yorkshire County Fish Shop serves British-style fish & chips in a quick-service setting, making it an easy dinner to grab and go.
United States / Port of Entry / American Adventure / Future World
This area is meant to look like the United States of America, and is between Japan and Italy. It features food heavily influenced by the American South.
Favorite Foods & Drinks in the United States
This springtime dessert, the Citrus Shortcake, wasn’t gluten-free, but it was beautiful and my husband said it was delicious. It was a miniature cake topped with whipped cream, fruit, and graham cracker crust, as well as a small pansy.
Meyer Lemon-poached Lobster Salad with Grapefruit-Rosé vinaigrette, yuzu-marinated hearts of palm, and avocado-yuzu panna cotta
This was absolutely delicious, so fresh, and so flavorful. The colors of this really popped making it both visually and gastronomically appealing.
Cajun-Style Roasted Oysters
These roasted oysters are the perfect segue into seafood for those who aren’t comfortable with raw shellfish. This was something we saw almost everyone at the parks eating, so it’s no surprise that we had to try them too. They were fantastic, by the way!
This classic Walt Disney Treat is made of frozen pineapple purée and is one of the tastiest fruity desserts in the parks.
Pecan Cake with Maple Whipped Cream
This dessert smelled as excellent as it tasted, according to our friends who ordered it. It looked delicious, so I’d love to one day see a gluten free version of this around Epcot!
This drink had Bayou spiced rum, coconut rum, fruit punch, and Orange juice, along with cherries on a skewer, making it the perfect tropical/Louisiana inspired drink.
Seared Salmon & Blood Orange Agua Fresca
With Farro Risotto and Micro Herbs, this delicious salmon was one of my husband’s favorite foods in Epcot, and as a fan of salmon myself, I have to agree that it was excellent!
Marinated toybox tomatoes & fresh goat cheese on toasted ciabatta
This avocado toast was not gluten-free, but I did try some of the avocado and goat cheese that was on top, and it was so delightful. The friends we were sharing our food with loved it too! This one wasn’t nearly as pretty as the picture on the menu, but it still was a crowd pleaser.
Boneless Vegan Korean Shortribs
with cilantro-lime rice, danmuji slaw, and kimchee mayonnaise
My husband and I are huge fans of Korean food, and I eat kimchee almost daily, but unfortunately I couldn’t try this because it wasn’t gluten free. My husband really enjoyed it, and said that while the flavors were very muted for being representative of Korean food, it was still cool to see something from Korea at Epcot. Hopefully they will make an entire section for Korea one day!
Why I Loved Epcot
I’m a travel writer! If you hadn’t noticed by now, I live to experience new places, foods, and ways of life, and the past year of being stuck at home was very difficult for me. Heading to Epcot, although it’s not necessarily the most authentic or immersive cultural experience, was a fantastic way for me to feel like I was traveling again. We ate delicious foods, I was able to photograph lots of fun details of the park, and it was a place I had never visited as an adult. Visiting Epcot was one of my favorite parts of our trip to Walt Disney World.
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