Epcot.. A wanderluster’s dreamland and the ultimate playground for people infected with the travel bug! With America at the centre and an additional 10 other different countries being represented within the World Showcase at (my favourite) Disney theme park, there’s tons of fun to be had, hopping from country to country faster than they can say ‘travel addict!’
A typical tradition for park-goers at Epcot is to do the eat and drink around the world challenge. The aim is to visit each station, sampling an alcoholic drink and a culinary delicacy at every stop… Finishing by the close of play fireworks, very full, very drunk and very well-traveled!
We eagerly decided to take on the challenge, using America as a base/rest stop and excluding it from the lineup in order to make room for the more exotic delights on offer! We sauntered up to the World Showcase with empty stomachs and full wallets, ready to kick off the morning with some tasty treats… 10 hours, a well needed break in between and what felt like 100, 000 calories later, we had made it!
From the delicious to the disgusting, the brilliant to the boring; these are the
official, unofficial rankings of the Epcot eat and drink around the world challenge!
10TH PLACE: Norway
Although all the countries offered a great experience one way or another, unfortunately one does have to take last place and for us, Norway was the least exciting of all the countries on offer. Much smaller in scale in comparison to the other places, it mainly felt like a giant ode to Frozen, rather than the cultural experience we felt elsewhere. The food and drink was only average and there didn’t seem to be much entertainment on offer – although the wandering vikings were pretty snap-worthy! The buildings themselves were beautiful, really encapsulating that traditional Nordic vibe. We didn’t wait the 2 hours needed to ride on the Frozen ever after viking boat ride, or wait in line to meet the Frozen characters, instead we just scoffed down our meatballs and beer while the short-lived Florida rain pelted down outside. The mashed potatoes topped with gravy were delicious, but the cold meatballs and jam was a combo neither of us were a fan of, majorly impacting our final scores. Norway would be great for Anna & Elsa fanatics, but with little more to offer, if one country has to be bypassed, we’d advise you to just ‘let it go’. (FYI, I hate myself for using that pun as much as you hated reading it.)
Food: Kjottkake (Meatballs, mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam) – $7.99 – 5/10
Drink: Scandinavian Draft Beer – $8.99 – 6/10
Entertainment: The vikings wandering around & the frozen boat ride – 5/10
Overall Score: 5/10
9TH PLACE: France
Personally, I love France. I love French food, French wines, French men… But I digress. The French pavilion at Epcot looked beautiful, plus there was that perfect smell of French perfume floating in the air and we loved the little lit up Eiffel Tower model on top of the buildings. However, other than the Parisian-esque architecture and quaint little shops, there really wasn’t much else to do other than watch the 18 minute long movie showing a variety of French landmarks and landscapes. We decided to swerve this and headed straight for our food and drink challenge! We chose an item from the holiday menu – a reveillon de noel, which was a deliciously stuffed turkey dish, accompanied with a Merlot and Cabernet blended wine… Which was horrendously vomit inducing. Throughout my entire adulthood I have adored French wine and red wine even more specifically, but this one tasted like paint stripper! Very disappointing, especially for French wine virgins, but thankfully the food tasted incredible enough to take the vile wine taste out of our mouths!
Food: Reveillon de Noel (Roasted turkey stuffed with mushrooms & chestnuts with a sweet potato puree) – $6.75 – 8/10
Drink: Merlot&Cabernet blend (Bordeaux Chateau de Bechuad, Saint Emilion) – $6.75 – 2/10
Things To See/Do: Wander around the shops, watch the French tourism movie – 5/10
Overall Score: 5.5/10
8TH PLACE: Italy
Italy for us, was a place of high promise and even higher expectations, but unfortunately, due to the lack of entertainment they fell short. The romantic Mediterranean architecture was beautiful and truly encompassed the Italian vibe with the fountain and the bell tower, not to mention the adorable little arch bridges above the canal. Wandering around the Italy section is an activity in itself, which comes in handy as there is literally nothing else other than the ‘entertainer’ Sergio who rides around on a little bicycle making jokes and noise and generally seeming to annoy most of the visitors here! The gondolas on the canal could definitely be utilized to offer a mini boat ride up and down the river or even just as seats for a photo opportunity if all else failed! Instead, there is a distinctive lack of activity to offer (not even a movie!), so thankfully the food and drink was more than up to scratch! We arrived craving dessert and we were most definitely in the right place! We scoffed down a delicious tiramisu, with the perfect balance of cream, crunch and coffee, washed down with a fruity limoncello cocktail. Lot’s of tasty food was on offer here, as expected from somewhere as delicious as Italy, but it would have been nice to at least have something additional on offer!
Food: Tiramisu (Marscapone cream, savoiardi biscuits, espresso coffee) – $4.75 – 8/10
Drink: Limoncello Cocktail (With peach puree, orange & pineapple juice) – $12.00 – 6/10
Things To See/Do: Admire beautiful architecture such as the fountain and bell tower – 3/10
Overall Score: 6/10
7TH PLACE: Germany
If you like beer and meat, then Germany is definitely the place for you! Set in a little Bavarian-esque village, the vibe was already set for an Oktoberfest style party. The beer was flowing, the rock band was yodeling up a storm on stage and the bratwursts were being demolished in abundance. The sausage we tried tasted amazing although there was slightly too much bread – which, for a carb-lover to say, means it was a lot! The grapefruit beer was very tasty, with a great balance of being fruity enough for flavour without taking away the beer taste. Similar to Italy, although the food and beer was definitely worth a visit, there isn’t much else on offer to keep you hanging around. The band was great and very unique, but if you miss their one of their performance slots you’ll be left wandering around craving some more atmosphere.
Food: Bratwurst (Sausage & sauerkraut served on a roll, with paprika chips) – $9.99 – 8/10
Drink: Schofferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen draft beer – $7.75 – 6/10
Things To See/Do: Bavarian yodeling rock band – 5/10
Overall Score: 6.5/10
6TH PLACE: Canada
We didn’t really know what to expect from Canada but we were really pleasantly surprised! The landscape was not only beautiful, but extremely varied and incorporated the mix of different areas and inhabitants perfectly. Whether you are wandering around by the totem pole or admiring the giant waterfall, you definitely have a lot of photo opportunities here! In addition to that, there is also a Canadian tourism video on offer, showcasing the landmarks and sights of Canada. We opted out of the tourist movie and instead tried the local delicacies – apple ice wine and a meat pie. The wine, coming in the world’s smallest glass – was delicious, shame it was in such small quantities as I could have literally drank a whole bucketful of the stuff! *possibly why they serve it in such small quantities!)* The meat pie was also very tasty, with lots of flavour and perfectly made pastry. Overall, Canadian food and drink was great, the atmosphere was really cool and the renowned Canadian friendliness was definitely not amiss, we’re just glad there was no Canadian winter weather included in the experience!
Food: Traditional French-Canadian Tourtiere Meat Pie & Canadian ketchup – $5.00 – 8/10
Drink: Neige apple ice wine – $5.50 – 8/10
Things To See/Do: Watch the Canadian tourism video, see the outdoor waterfall – 5/10
Overall Score: 7/10
5TH PLACE: United Kingdom
Okay, so as a Brit, I was always going to be slightly biased to the UK offering at Epcot – be that positively or negatively – but overall, I was relatively happy with what was on offer! The set-up was great, looking just like a little English village, the rose & crown pub being the cherry on top of an already very pretty looking cake. There is a variety of bands performing at different times on the stage at the entertainment section, as well as an old-fashioned piano accompanied sing-a-long and knees up on offer inside the pub if karaoke is more your thing! The beer was great and the fish and chips were mouth-wateringly good, definitely give the tartar sauce a try if you’re a fish & chip newbie; it’s great. I would have loved if there were a few more foods and drinks on offer to really sidestep the stereotype that we only eat fish & chips, possibly an offering of a culinary delicacy from Scotland/Ireland/Wales as well as England to truly show what the United in United kingdom stands for!
Food: Fish & Chips (Two strips of battered fish, served with chips) – $10.99 – 8/10
Drink: Harp Larger Draft – $7.50 – 7/10
Things To See/Do: Variety of bands, sing-a-longs in the pub & an improv group – 7/10
Overall Score: 7.5/10
4TH PLACE: Morocco
Morocco was amazing – a sensory overload with a mix of smells, sights and sounds capturing you with every step! The decor was spectacular, from the intricate patterns decorating the baazar of shops to the majestic Mosque replica – no detail was spared when representing Morocco at the world pavillion. With belly-dancers on stage performing with a live band, the whole experience felt extremely authentic, most definitely doing the job of inspiring guests to visit Morocco at some point in life! We tried an Andalusian poinsettia cocktail with the staple Moroccan orange blossom water, accompanied with a lamb kefta kebab, both of which were incredible. We both agreed it was a shame we didn’t have as much time left in the park by the time we visited the Moroccan section because there seemed to be so much to see and do, even the little outside market of shops was a cut above the other stores on offer at Epcot. In fact, the only benefit of doing Morocco nearer to the end of our food and drink challenge was that by the end of the day we definitely had more of a belly to join in the belly dancing with!
Food: Grilled lamb kefta (Served with grapes, cucumber, red pepper, pickled pearl onions, harissa and cilantro dressing) – $7.00 – 8/10
Drink: Andalusian poinsettia cocktail (Sparkling wine, orange liqueur, cranberry juice & orange blossom water) – $8.00 – 8/10
Things To See/Do: The incredibly authentic architecture and belly-dancing band – 6/10
Overall Score: 8/10
3RD PLACE: China
Almost every big city in the Western world has some form of Chinatown – and after visiting the China pavilion at Epcot – it’s clear to see why! There is so much culture, variety and difference on offer here that it’s pretty hard to think of where to start! We decided to try some food from one of the holiday carts available, sampling the mango wine, which was one of the best drinks we tried the entire day, alongside the Mongolian beef bao bun – another brilliantly tasty option! Feeling satisfied with our culinary options and ready to move on we were hit with an overwhelming list of sights to see. The entertainment at the China section is probably the most packed there is to offer. From jeweled acrobats, to lion dancers, to a terracotta army replica and the bijutsu-kan gallery showing a movie detailing China’s vast history – you are spoiled for choice! Alongside all of this, there is also an extensive number of shops, each selling a variety of Chinese souvenirs from clothing to typical games and toys. Overall, China was one of the best parts of our day at Epcot and is definitely a part you should visit as it is ridiculously more extensive than your local Chinatown!
Food: Mongolian beef bao bun (Served with a fortune cookie) – $6.00 – 9/10
Drink: Mango wine – $5.00 – 8.5/10
Things To See/Do: Jeweled acrobats, Chinese lion dancers, terracotta army replica – 9/10
Overall Score: 9/10
2ND PLACE: Japan
Another great offering of culture from Asia – this time from the Japanese pavilion! Epcot really put an insane amount of effort into making Japan look as authentic and as accurate as possible. With a traditional Japanese pagoda as a central point within the courtyard of plants and ponds, the calm atmosphere automatically washes over you – that is until the extremely talented Japanese taiko drumming show begins! In addition to these performances throughout the day, there is an exhibition on the culture of cute – with a variety of props and pictures that showcase the Japanese fixation on cuteness and overall a great little gallery to wander around and learn something in between stuffing your face all day! But, make sure you then definitely make time to stuff your face – ideally with a futomaki big roll as it was to die for, and easily the lightest thing we ate all day! Health kick aside, we then glugged down the HUGE sake mist cocktail, which was a mountain of shaved ice and juices mixed with sake and easily the biggest and messiest drink we had tried the whole time! Not sure about the alcohol content, but even just for the challenge of not spilling any (we failed massively and ended up sake mist messes)- it’s worth it!
Food: Futomaki big roll (Two pieces of sushi with crab & vegetables) – $5.00 – 8.5/10
Drink: Sake Mist (Coconut pineapple shaved ice mixed with sake) – $9.00 – 8/10
Things To See/Do: Japanese taiko drumming show, culture of cute exhibition – 8/10
Overall Score: 8.5/10
1ST PLACE: Mexico
And finally our winner – Mexico! We LOVED you Mexico! From the incredible food to the entertainment to our crowning glory – the design, everything was just spectacular. We began our tour of Mexico by munching down on a tosdada de tinga – surprisingly filling and great value for money. We couldn’t decide which flavour frozen margarita we wanted so we opted for as many as possible! The fiesta margarita had 3 combined flavours, tasted delicious and ensured the serving staff cheered ‘FIESTA’ everytime one was ordered! Upon downing our drinks and licking our plates clean, we headed into the plaze de los amigos – an amazing little indoor marketplace full of shops, bars and the jaw-dropping landscape that serves as a romantic twilight landscape for the san angel inn restaurant! It’s a beautiful backdrop and very picturesque, also featured within the gran fiesta boat ride that takes you alongside the water at the back of the restaurant. When you can finally drag yourself away from the restaurants, bars and sombrero shops, you can come back outside to watch the mariachi band playing at intervals throughout the day. Mexico not only had a lot to offer, but everything they offered, they did extremely well. If I ever come back to Epcot, I’ll be sure to visit Mexico faster than I can say tequila!
Food: Tostada de Tinga (Open faced tortilla topped with chipotle chicken, black beans, avocado, crema mexicana, queso fresco and tomatillo sauce) – $5.75 – 8/10
Drink: Fiesta Margarita (Frozen margarita – lime, strawberry & mango) – $10.50 – 9/10
Things To See/Do: Gran fiesta boat ride, plaza de los amigos, mariachi bands – 9/10
Overall Score: 9.5/10
And that’s that! Epcot is a great day out and the World Showcase is so incredibly unique that you’re crazy to give it a miss. We worked out that our overall spend on the day between the two of us was only $150.21 (Food = $69.22, Alcohol = $80.99)- and that was without holding back or budgeting at all. There are some much cheaper offerings at each station for the more budget conscious country hoppers, as well as the higher end price points for things like sit down meals and harder liqour. Either way, flitting from place to place and sightseeing is a great way to spend the day, without even needing your passport! So put on your stretchy pants and get ready to eat and drink around the world at Epcot!