Greetings, Internet Stranger! Snacking around the world at Epcot at Disney World is an overwhelming experience. EPCOT is possibly the oddest place in the universe. At first, you might think that sounds like a ridiculous statement. After all, Epcot is one of the theme parks at Disney World in Orlando, and everyone knows that nothing is synonymous with mainstream and popular like Disney. But EPCOT isn’t like the Magic Kingdom theme park at Disney. Allow me to explain exactly why.
Three fun facts: Epcot
1) What does epcot stand for?
It stands for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and it was the brainchild of Walt Disney. He wanted EPCOT to be an ideal living community for real families. But after Walt’s death, it was decided that it would be more profitable to turn EPCOT into another park.
2) What can you do at epcot?
Half of Epcot is called Future World, and if the rides are any indication, apparently this means that the future will be made up of sustainable farming, mischievous purple dragons, space travel, Judi Dench, fast cars, and lost clownfish.
3) Is that All?
The World Showcase is Epcot’s other (and better half). It has World’s Fair style Pavilions presenting the goods and foods of ten foreign countries (plus one extra for America). Clearly the best thing to do at the World Showcase is to pick an activity and then try to complete that activity in every pavilion.
Some people enjoy Drinking Around the World but I prefer Living the Hangover Free Life Around the World, so instead, I decided to try Snacking Around the World, which means that I needed to buy and eat a snack from a shop in all eleven pavilions. Spoiler Alert: I was successful!
Follow me for a day of snacking, shopping, and fun facts! There will be no kids and no singing “Let it Go”! You’re welcome!
Snacking Around the World
Where Should I Stay?
As a solo-traveling non-driver, I recommend staying at one of the Disney resorts because the transportation to and from the parks to the hotel is so convenient. Plus they offer complimentary transpo to and from the Orlando Airport. Finally, if you stay at a resort, they send you a Magic Band bracelet that makes using the Fast Pass system really convenient. I like to stay at one of the Port Orleans hotels because I am ride or die for The Princess and the Frog.
If you’d rather explore deals on over 4000 hotels in Orlando, just click here.
In order to get the most out of your 24 hours in Epcot, I suggest you get coffee at your hotel, hop on the free shuttle, and arrive at Disney in time to enter the park at 9AM when it opens.
Snacking Around the World
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today around Epcot. It’s very frequently hot in Orlando, though not always, so it’s smart to wear sandals. I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Also, don’t forget the sunscreen! The sun can get scorching! My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. You don’t want to sling a heavy bag all around Disney World. It’s tough to squeeze that bag into the rides. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so you’ll never run out of juice!
Snacking Around the World
Morning: Future World
As with any Disney park, I recommend getting there as soon as the park opens at 9, so you can have as much time as possible to have fun. As soon as you get inside, run into that giant disco ball that doubles as the symbol of EPCOT. I like to start my day here with the ritual of riding Spaceship Earth.
24 Hour Tip
EPCOT is a lot stingier with the Fast Passes than the Magic Kingdom. You’re going to have to choose between getting a Fast Pass for Soarin’ or getting a Fast Pass for the dementedly popular and new Frozen Ever After. I opted for Soarin’, so I won’t be covering Frozen Ever After on this itinerary. The line was over two hours and I could not even with that.
THE APPROXIMATELY TOP FIVE: FUTURE WORLD
1) Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth is a ride dedicated to one of old Walt’s obsessions, technological innovation. You can choose the language for the narration of the ride, but the English version is currently narrated by Dame Judi Dench (!!!) The ride shows you the progress of humanity from the creation of fire to the invention of the personal computer.
Humans! Where would we be without ourselves? I was especially impressed that the ride credited Islamic scholars with mathematical innovation. Way to be inclusive, Disney!
This ultra popular ride is in The Land building. I suggest getting a Fast Pass for about 9:30 for this one because the lines usually go up to 90 minutes pretty quickly. Basically it’s a flight simulation that makes you feel like you are Soarin’ over a myriad world wonders, from Neuschwanstein Castle to Iguacu Falls.
I think people like this ride because, unlike many of the attractions at Epcot, you don’t have to think about it at all. After all the deep thinking that Spaceship Earth made me do, it was nice to chill out, look at pretty pictures, and pretend that I could fly like Tinkerbell.
3) Living With the Land
This ride is basically the opposite of Soarin’. Soarin’ is about the air, this is about the land. There’s always a huge line at Soarin’, but there’s never any line at Living With the Land. Soarin’ is a fact-free (albeit enjoyable) thrill ride, Living with the Land is an educational look at ways in which humans can farm more sustainably. (I especially was interested in hearing about how some farmers are trying to use natural predators instead of pesticides to kill pests.) Living With the Land has a “g” in it, Soarin’ drops the “g”…I could go on and on.
4) Sunshine seasons
You’re going to want to save most of your appetite for Snacking Around the World, but we’re not going there until 11:30 and you need to eat breakfast. I recommend getting a snack at Sunshine Seasons, which is a bakery in The Land building.
I liked the Carrot Cake Cupcake. It was moist and spicy and had plump raisins in it. You may say that you can’t have a cupcake for breakfast, but I say I can do what I want on my vacation! Also carrots are good for you! This one is made out of frosting, but still!
Snacking Around the World
Afternoon: World Showcase Part One
At this point, it should be around 11:30 and it’s time to head for the World Showcase. Our 24 Hours in EPCOT are finally going from good to great! We are going to start in Canada! It’s aboot time!
Approximately top 5: world showcase part one
Don’t miss the movie “O Canada”, which is basically a long ad from the Canadian Tourism Bureau, but is still pretty funny because it’s narrated by Canadian hambone Martin Short. He makes lots of jokes about how Canada isn’t really a ice-infested snow-covered hellscape and pretends he’s trapped inside the movie screen. Bonus! There is also a bilingual English-French song at the end sung by a winner of Canadian Idol. It’s exactly as cheesy as you would expect the winner of a pop singing competition from the nation that produced Celine Dion to be.
Snacking Around the World: Ketchup Chips in Canada
Canada has the worst snacking around the world options of any pavilion. Go to one of the stores, buy a bag of bilingual ketchup potato chips and call it a day.
2) shopping in the UK Pavilion
The United Kingdom pavilion doesn’t have any movies or museums, but it does have a lot of shopping. You can get anything here from Beatles paraphernalia to Yardley’s of London perfume. (I did wonder if David Bowie is rolling over in his grave because of the David Bowie shirts on sale here, but then I remember that he made Labyrinth, so he can’t really say anything.)
My favorite shop is The Tea Caddy, which is devoted to selling Twinings Tea and other tea goods and services. I usually just end up buying Alice in Wonderland mugs. Are they authentically English? No. Do they delight me? Yes!
Snacking around the world: fish and chips in the uk
You’ll be wanting some lunch right about now, so go on, guv’nor, and get some fish and chips at the Yorkshire County Fish Shop for about ten dollars. The line gets long but it moves pretty quickly. I was impressed with the quality of the fried fish. It’s crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Plus you can get malt vinegar packets to put on the fries, which is much more authentic than ketchup
So my favorite thing about France is how all the cast members working here are French and they all look so depressed to be working there. Do all their French friends back home tease them about working at Disney? What are their feelings about Euro Disney? I am dying to know!
But just like Actual France, what the French Pavilion lacks in politesse, it makes up for with beauty and food and mimes. You can buy some perfume, watch a silent comedy show called Serveur Amusant, and eat lots and lots of sweets. What more could a person want from Faux France?
“Impressions de France” is the France Pavilion’s 18 minute answer to the “O Canada” film. What it lacks for in Martin Short, it makes up for in providing real seats so you can actually sit for the duration of the film. Also instead of Canadian Idol, the French movie features a score by Debussy, Offenbach, and Saint-Saens, so I think France wins in this department too.
Snacking around the world: croque glace in france
The food at the France Pavilion is provided by an actual French restaurant group, so it is all around a great place for snacking. But I find myself always choosing the croque glace from L’Artisan des Glaces over all the other treats. This is a brioche cut open, stuffed with housemade ice cream, and then smooshed in a hot press.
I prefer the not-too-sweet-but-very-French caramel fleur de sel ice cream and chocolate sauce on mine. Just be sure and bring a spoon with you when you are eating this. A lot of the ice cream scootches out of the back of the brioche, so you’ll lose a lot of deliciousness if you’re not careful.
The Moroccan pavilion is extremely lovely to look at, which is not surprising considering the Moroccan government helped to design it. Like Actual Morocco, it is fun to go exploring and shopping around the little nooks and crannies here. Unlike Actual Morocco, booze is readily available.
Spend some time wandering about and appreciating the realistic architectural details. I especially love the Fez House. Though it is just a replica of a Moroccan home, for a second it made me feel that I was back in Morocco. There’s a lot more fanny packs and Big Gulps at Disney than I saw in Morocco, though.
Snacking around the world: tabbouleh in morocco
At this point you’ll be full from your lunch and ketchup chips, so we’ll want something small. Stop at the Tangerine Cafe and order a side dish of tabbouleh salad. It’s very leafy and will be a nice palate cleanser after that giant brioche ice cream sandwich.
Is Japan the greatest pavilion? That depends. Do you like food, shopping, and good times? If so, then yes, I would have to go for Japan. If you prefer funnel cakes and terrible souvenir pictures of bald eagles, then the American Pavilion is more your speed.
Snacking around the world: kakigori time!
I’m obsessed with the kakigori, which is a Japanese shaved ice dessert served at the Kabuki Cafe stand. I like the melon flavor, but I really like it with sweet milk topping. The whole thing is a frosty sugar rush directly to the brain!
Then take your kakigori and eat it by this replica of a Japanese gate. It can almost convince you that you are really in the Land of the Rising Sun, except for the Epcot Disco Ball behind you.
Don’t miss the Bijutsu-kan, which is the museum exhibition dedicated to Japan’s cute culture. Cute culture can inform every part of Japanese life, from tourism to the home to the office. I was intrigued to learn that much of Japan’s fondness for cute things started as kind of a cultural rebellion in the 1970s. It was especially interesting seeing the “kawaii” bathroom set-up. I want that Totoro mat for my bathroom, stat!
6) The American Experience
Ugh, America. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, but the American Pavilion leaves much to be desired. The souvenirs are hideous kitsch, the food is basically just funnel cakes, and the decor pales even in comparison to Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom. There’s basically just one attraction, but lucky for America, that one attraction is worth seeing.
The American Experience is the name of the Animatronic American History show presented at regular intervals throughout the day at Epcot. Check ahead for showtimes to help you figure out a convenient time to visit the American Pavilion. The conceit of the show is that it is a presentation of American history based on an imaginary conversation between Animatronic Ben Franklin and Animatronic Mark Twain.
Franklin tends towards optimism about America and Twain towards pessimism. I was impressed with the way that the show included the points of view of those historically critical of American policy, such as Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony.
I also cried at this scene set in the Depression in which deep voiced Disney Robots perform “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” because that song always makes me cry. Then I cried again at the end of the show when they showed a video about major moments in American history because they showed the Challenger explosion and I can’t deal with that.
Disney has not yet cut Lance Armstrong from the video, but I really think they should because everyone giggled when his face came on screen.(Editor’s Note: Disney has since cut Lance Armstrong, but I’m leaving this comment up for historical preservation reasons.)
Snacking around the world: beer in america
I could not deal with pumpkin spice funnel cake at this stage of my day, so instead I opted for a craft beer. This was a Meyer lemon lager from San Francisco, just the thing for a warm January day in Florida. America might not do souvenirs or food right, but we still win at brewskis. USA! USA!
Snacking Around the World
Evening: World Showcase Part Two
Now the sun is beginning to set. (It’s January in Florida, go with it.) We’re ready to head to some of the slower pavilions, and by slower pavilions I mean Germany. Don’t worry, though! There’s loads of fun left in our 24 Hours in Epcot
Approximately top 5: world showcase part deux
The Italy pavilion is lacking in certain areas. It doesn’t have a movie, it doesn’t have a museum or a ride, and it doesn’t have any places to buy a slice of pizza. It does have charming architecture inspired by Venice, a good sit-down pizza restaurant, and Italian wine. Also it has this statue of Poseidon.
I checked carefully to make sure Poseidon was dressed appropriately for being around children. He is! But it is a close call.
Snacking around the world: cannoli in italy
Italy is not great for snacks because most of its restaurants are sit-down only. That’s why I stopped at the gelato cart. I’d already had ice cream in France, so I decided to make do with my most favorite dessert in the whole wide world, cannoli.
The EPCOT cannoli loses points for being pre-filled (the best cannoli are filled to order) but it gains points for a creamy, not-too sweet filling and a chocolate shell. Chocolate shells are not authentic, but they taste amazing, and they prevent the pre-filled cannoli from getting soggy.
The German pavilion is the second worst thing Germany has ever done. It’s pretty to look at, but there’s no movie, museum, or ride and the shopping is horrible. Everything is tacky. I had to resort to buying a Christmas pickle ornament as a souvenir.
No one needs a Christmas pickle, Germany! I don’t even have a Christmas tree! Make better choices. On the plus side, there’s always food.
Snacking around the world: caramel in germany
The only thing you really need to do in Germany is visit the Werther’s caramel store. Aren’t you just tempted by everything in this window? But I was good and just had one perfectly chewy dark chocolate covered sea salt caramel. It was very good, and almost made me sorry I compared the German pavilion to Hitler.
24 Hour Treasure: basically nothing
I guess you can look at this little model train garden? I feel like recommending anything in the German pavilion outside of the caramels disgraces the honor of the award of 24 Hour Treasure.
Well this is much better. China has a movie and a museum and really fabulous shopping. Its food isn’t as strong as some of the other pavilions, but I promise we will make do. Let’s go! We have a dead fake Chinese poet to meet.
China has a movie just like France and Canada called “Reflections of China”. The narrator is neither Martin Short nor an invisible, disdainful Frenchman, but rather an actor in the role of famous Chinese 8th century poet Li Bai. As you wait for the movie, take advantage of the little museum located right next to the entrance of the theater. The current exhibition is on the construction of Disneyland Shanghai.
There was interesting information about how Disney tried to incorporate elements of Chinese culture into the design of the park. They even assigned one Disney animal to each of the Chinese zodiac characters (Mushu is the dragon, Apu is the monkey, Pluto is the dog…etc.) I have to admit that the exhibit made me want to visit Shanghai. Look how cute Minnie looks in that vintage Shanghai style! I bet I would look just as cute because I am definitely not a mouse.
Snacking around the world: curry Chicken Pocket
I’ve heard that the food in China is underwhelming, so I have to thank Disney Food Blog for suggesting the curry chicken pocket from The Joy of Tea stand. The pastry on the outside was flaky and the chicken on the inside was flavorful and meaty. A perfect savory snack after my cannoli and chocolate covered caramel.
Epcot’s Norway has kind of been taken over by Frozen-mania and I think that’s a shame. I’m sure it drives more traffic, but a lot of the Norwegian goods in the stores have been replaced by Frozen stuff and the line for the Frozen Ever After ride takes up a lot of space. But the Norway pavilion still has some seriously yummy baked goods, a (Frozen themed) museum, and charming architecture, so it’s far from a total loss.
Norway’s museum is currently dedicated to the ways in which traditional Norwegian culture inspired Frozen. I did like seeing how much Anna’s clothes looked like the real Norwegian traditional dress. They are known in Norwegian as bunad.
But my favorite part of the museum was the section on rosemaling, which is traditional Norwegian wood painting. I was especially impressed to see how the rosemaling designs influenced the look of Elsa’s spells. Animators are just infinitely fascinating in their cleverness. I firmly believe that animation should be taken as seriously as any other art form.
Snacking around the world: School bread in Norway
The place to snack in Norway is the Kringla bakery, which strangely enough does not serve kringla. My favorite pastry there is the cult classic school bread, which is a creamy custard in a fluffy bun that tasted a bit of cardamom to me. They did not serve anything like this at my school, more’s the pity! This version does taste like the school bread I had every morning in Oslo.
We’ve come to the last pavilion, and fortunately, it is a pavilion that is well suited for exploring at night. The first reason is that the pyramid looks quite smashing all lit up, and the second is that Mexico serves my favorite cocktails in Epcot at La Cava del Tequila. Don’t give up! We’re almost there
There is a ride inside the Mexican pavilion and there’s never a long line, so it’s an easy way to take a load off. The ride is about the “3 Caballeros”, Donald Duck and his friends Panchito Pistoles and Jose Carioca. (As you can probably tell from their names, only Panchito is Mexican because Jose is Brazilian. I feel that’s more info that I need to have about the nationalities of animated fictitious birds.)
During the ride, you watch the 3 Caballeros get lost and have adventures all over Mexico. Also at one point Donald gets beat up like a pinata by some Mexican children, so if there’s anyone else named Donald you don’t like, you can imagine it’s him.
Snacking around the world: avocado margarita
La Cava del Tequila is the always-packed tequila bar inside the Mexico pyramid. The line is long, but it moves pretty fast. They have tasty and creative margaritas, which are the perfect way to cap off a day of heavy eating. I love the refreshing and melon-y avocado margarita, but you can always be boring and get a regular one. I won’t judge you because I’m sure you won’t tell me about it.
Related Reading: Snacking Around the World
Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Orlando right now? Let me help you get started with some more reading. I like the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It has information on every Disney park, and because it’s not affiliated with Disney, they always give their honest opinion.
If you want to know more about the man, the myth, the legend, the Walt, my favorite Disney bio is Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. You’ll learn about how Walt Disney rose from humble beginnings and terrible grades to become the master of the known universe. (I may be exaggerating a bit there.)
And if you’re more interested in the Disney animation, I suggest Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil. You’ll learn more about how the Disney artists design these paragons of evil and villainy. My favorite villains are Maleficent and Dr. Facilier. I even have Maleficent Minnie Ears with fake green flames on them. I REGRET NOTHING!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours Snacking Around the World in Epcot. If you want to add itineraries for the Magic Kingdom I’ve got one here, one here and another one for Epcot over here. Finally I have one for the Epcot Festival of the Arts here.