Almost any time of year Epcot is hosting a themed festival. For more info, check out My Previous Blog.
NOTE: Due to COVID, many of the experiences in Epcot are currently suspended, including character meet and greets and much of the live entertainment. I’ve still included them in the blog; some specific acts will be permanently canceled, but they are reintroducing some throughout 2021 and adding new performances. Always check the daily calendar to learn what is offered during your visit. Many of the table service restaurants are also currently closed; because of its popularity I’ve only noted Akershus as closed in the blog.
While it’s good to have plan if there’s something you really want to see, the World Showcase is best explored by letting your interests guide you. The World Showcase opens at 11am, but you can access the Norway Pavilion early to ride Frozen Ever After. KidCot Fun stops offer children the chance to learn more about each country, and prior to COVID Cast Members acted as ambassadors to their home countries at each stop (One of my favorite memories is trying to tear Alice away from a KidCot station and her first crush, a nice young Norwegian man; likely the subconscious Frozen effect). As an extra activity, purchase a Passport at one of the Epcot shops and apply the stamps as you find each country. Characters are found in their home countries or regions, although currently they are seen on cavalcades and not meet and greets.
The World Showcase can be exhausting, and while shade is hard to come by there are plenty of opportunities to duck into shops. “Drinking Around the World” is popular, especially during Festivals, so weekend evenings are particularly crowded. We typically make a round at the 11am opening, then take a late afternoon break at our resort and return for another lap in the evening before the fireworks.
US, UK & Canada
We typically start our Epcot visits in the International Gateway entrance, which takes you first to the United Kingdom. Two sections of connected shops are filled with everything from English tea to merch from British Invasion bands. Yorkshire County Fish Shop is a favorite stop for to go fish & chips.
The American Pavilion is across the lake. Admittedly, we haven’t spent as much time there. The Voices of Liberty is the most popular show in this section.
The Canada pavilion expands behind the World Showcase and takes you to a waterfall and through lush gardens. In the shop you can purchase all the varieties of moose-laden plaid. Grab a Lebatt Blue for the full Canadian experience.
Table Service Dining:
Rose & Crown in the UK (offers outdoor seating with views of the World Showcase)
Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada (Signature restaurant- try the vegetarian poutine !)
Characters : Alice, Mary Poppins
The Mexico Pavilion is one of our favorite ways to beat the heat in Epcot. The entrance features rotating exhibitions about traditional Indigenous and Mexican culture. From there, you enter an “outdoor” market with kiosks and shops. La Cava del Tequila is a popular spot for tequila tasting and mixed drinks. Behind the candle-lit San Angel Inn, the Gran Fiesta Tour Featuring the Three Caballeros boats run through the canal. The ride is themed for the 1944 Three Caballeros movie and similar to It’s a Small World. It’s one of our family favorites (especially post-Margarita) and the wait is almost always short.
Table Service Restaurants:
La Hacienda de San Angel (offers outdoor seating with views of the World Showcase)
San Angel Inn (We love to reserve a table at lunchtime; the restaurant setting is always evening. While it’s a shock to return to the sunny, busy mid-day Epcot, the quiet downtime we spend inside is always worth it.)
Italy & Germany
The Italy Pavilion combines the fountains of Rome with the plazas of Venice. Sip Italian wine while you watch the art of perfume design, shop for Venetian masks, and prep your kitchen for traditional Italian cooking.
Table Service Dining in Italy:
The Germany Pavilion is all about the food and beer, with the quick service Sommerfest that offers food similar to what you can find in the table-service Biergarten restaurant. The shops surround the plaza, and we always take home an ornament souvenir from the Christmas-themed shop.
Table Service Dining in Germany:
Biergarten (The restaurant is set up as a traditional German beer hall, with communal seating and musical performances. We loved having Christmas dinner here, and sharing our traditions with the British family that was seated at our table).
China & Japan
One of our favorite experiences in Epcot is the “pick a pearl” ceremony in the Japan Pavilion’s Mitsukoshi Department Store. The pavilion also has a traditional Japanese Garden and koi pond.
Table Service Dining in Japan:
Teppan Edo (Hibachi)
Takumi-Tei (Signature Dining)
The China Pavilion has lush gardens, kiosks, and shopping. The temple replica features the 14-minute “Reflections of China” Circle-Vision movie.
Table Service Dining in China:
Nine Dragons (If you’re trying to be more adventurous in your Epcot dining, skip Nine Dragons. We enjoyed the views and the food, but the other restaurants felt like they placed us more in another country.)
Morocco & France
The Souk-al-Magreb shops in the Morocco Pavilion wind through the showcase and offer north African clothing, souvenirs and home décor. The Fes House takes you inside the architecture of a Moroccan home, and connects to a cultural museum. For quick-service (and some great healthy and vegetarian options), stop at Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina.
Table Service Dining:
Spice Road (offers outdoor seating with views of the World Showcase)
Characters: Aladdin & Jasmine
The French Bakery in the France Pavilion, Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie, is a great stop for afternoon coffee and a sweet snack. (We also like to grab a pastry to save for breakfast in our resort hotel room the next day.)
Table Service Dining:
Chefs de France
Monsignor Paul (Signature Dining)
Characters: “Provincial” Belle, Aurora
The Norway Pavilion’s popularity increased drastically when Frozen became a phenomenon. Though temporarily closed due to COVID, Anna and Elsa greet visitors inside a small house. The Frozen Ever After ride is one of Epcot’s most popular, so head here at opening if it’s a must.
Table Service Dining:
Akershus (a popular Princess dining option, though currently closed due to COVID)