Ranking World Showcase Pavilions

View of World ShowcaseI’m thinking Disney thoughts (aren’t I always?) and today they’re about World Showcase.  I know it has to do with the latest episode of the Mighty Men of Mouse Podcast – which I always listen to on the day it comes out.  I started thinking about my experiences in Epcot’s World Showcase over the years, how I feel about the different pavilions at this particular time in my life.  And if those feelings differ if the pavilions belong to countries I’ve actually visited versus the ones I only dream of visiting (or not).

So the meandering thought process goes, and thus the decision to rank the World Showcase pavilions – just for fun. When this is over – I really, sincerely want to know how your own ranking compares to mine.  I’ve put a lot of thought into my feelings and reasoning.  Mostly, my decision was based not on general appeal, or even logic, but how much I want to visit a particular pavilion and how much time I spend there.   Please comment what you’d change and why.  Let’s get started!

Ranking World Showcase Pavilions

11.  Morocco:  (I have never visited the actual country)  I walk by.  If there’s entertainment, I walk by more slowly.  Epcot's Morocco Pavilion / Spice Road TableRaymond likes to grab a cup of coffee there sometimes, but the dining choices don’t appeal to the picky eaters in my family.  Sometimes we browse the shops and once, Megan and Joseph got henna tattoos there.  It’s nothing negative, this pavilion is generally off our radar.IMG_7118

10.  Norway:  (I just got back from the actual country and my vacation was amazing.)  I used to love this pavilion and would, in the past, have put it much higher in the rankings, but in its current condition, sans ride, unappealing (to me, right now) princess dining buffet at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, lack of entertainment…it doesn’t do justice to the incredible beauty and culture of the country it represents.

9.  China (Never been there):  I love the way this pavilion looks.  I love the entertainment I’ve seen there through the years and the merchandise is always novel and fun to check out.  We’ve never chosen to eat there, but high marks for atmosphere and flair.

8.  Mexico:  (I have visited Mexico and enjoyed it very much.) It’s just ME – the place is awesome, but I’m married to a man who categorically dislikes the taste of Mexican food (unless you count Taco Tuesday at our house as Mexican food).  Great food has a serious impact on pavilion rank placement and sadly, I’ve not had a meal other than a quick counter service lunch.  Mexico PavilionI adore Donald Duck and Fiesta Donald is fun, sweet, and adorable!  The ride, shops, and musical entertainment (Mariachi Cobre) are all great!

7.  Canada:  (I’ve been to Vancouver and, very briefly, Toronto)  The beauty and grandeur of this pavilion evokes the beauty and grandeur of the actual country.RM-Le-CellierClean, beautiful and breathtaking – Canada (the pavilion and the country) brings back many happy memories.  (I may hate the Lumberjack Show, but don’t hold it against the pavilion…or the country.)

6.  America – I live here and I am very patriotic.  I just don’t get much out of the pavilion except for the Voices of Liberty!  I can’t say enough about what a great show they put on and how I love listening to them echo in the pavilion’s atrium.Voices-of-Liberty

5. France (I have been to France and it was wonderful):  Great restaurants, beautiful buildings, this pavilion is an enchanting place to spend time.  What I saw of France is well reflected here.  Epcot's France / Window DisplayI especially love it during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival – they pull out all the stops.

4.  Germany (I’ve not been there, but am half German):  I love the pavilion itself – it is so warm and welcoming to me!  IMG_7112I love Sommerfest and any kind of beer they’re serving at the beer kiosks (by strapping young men in lederhosen).  I love the shops there and, if I can find a seat in the courtyard, am happy to spend quite a while soaking up the atmosphere.  Makes me want to go to Germany!

3.  Italy (I have been to Italy and LOVED it!) – This pavilion does the best job (to me) of evoking the feeling of its home country.  IMG_7103The meal, snack, and beverage choices are plentiful.  The wine shop is a particular favorite of my – they’ll send my selections to the front of the park for me to pick up on my way out.

2.  United Kingdom (I’ve not been there…yet):  There’s such beauty and charm in this pavilion.  So much to take in, loads of details, great food and drink and wonderful entertainment (British Revolution).  RM-Rose-and-CrownI love the Rose & Crown – both the pub and the eatery (I highly recommend the pub’s Single Malt Scotch Flight, if you’re a Scotch fan).  I also adore Yorkshire County Fish Shoppe.  And the beer.  See?  This is why it made it to #2!

1.  Japan (Never been to the country):  What this pavilion lacks (to me) in outward appearance, it makes up for in holding my attention.  I like the food, while it’s not on my must-do list, I think it’s good.  The Matsuriza (drum performance) is very cool.  What makes this pavilion #1 to me right now?  IMG_3815The Mitsukoshi Department Store!  It’s not about shopping – it’s about seeing the incredible assortment of Japanese goods and cultural items.  I could stay in there all day and never see everything!  Swords, bonsai tree kits, chop sticks, kimonos, teas, saké, clothing, toys, books, the pick-a-pearl counter, and – best of all – the amazing candy/snack room full of an incredible assortment of Japanese treats.

There is no right or wrong – no definitive, absolute ranking of World Showcase Pavilions.  It’s a jumble of feelings, memories, interests, and priorities.  What makes one country’s pavilion “better” than another will be different for each of us – how would YOU rank the World Showcase pavilions?

Underappreciated Epcot – The Seas

RM-Bruce-and-JosephToday it may be called “The Seas With Nemo and Friends”, but it’ll always be “The Living Seas” to me.  I think this attraction area has a lot to recommend it (as I mentioned in my previous attempts to raise interest here and here).  My fried Nick would call it “Edutainment” for the educational/entertainment factor The Seas offers Epcot guests, but the draw for me is in the entirety of the experience.  Calm, relaxing, fun, and yes, even with a lesson to teach here and there.RM-Epcot-Aquarium-Eel

Maybe I’m aquarium-deprived since I live in rural Louisiana and it’s a pretty long haul to Audubon’s Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans (which is awesome, by the way), but there’s something about Epcot’s version of aquatic-animals-on-display that makes me ridiculously happy and magically transforms this little corner of the World into a must-see for me on every visit.  Seriously, don’t skip it – there are a lot of awesome things to see besides the Nemo ride (cruisin’ in Clammobiles!) and Turtle Talk.RM-Manatee  RM-Manatee-Eating-LettuceI’ve mentioned the Manatees before and how fun it is to watch them eat lettuce (no, I’m not kidding).  But wait!  There’s more!

Underappreciated Epcot – The Seas


Bob? Sheldon?






Jacques the Cleaner Shrimp

Next time you go, give it a try.  I think late morning (before maybe heading to the World Showcase for lunch) or mid-afternoon are great times to visit The Seas.  Our family likes to start in the main building to leisurely make our way to all the fish tanks and animal exhibits before we see Turtle Talk.  Then we wrap up the visit with Nemo and Friends – if we had small children, I would have them look for fish on the ride that we’d seen on display in the exhibits.

Depending on the crowd levels, The Seas could be explored in 60-90 minutes.  Short on time?  Allow 20-30 minutes to see the exhibits, then decide if you can afford to wait for the Nemo and Friends ride and/or Turtle Talk with Crush (FastPasses may be booked in advance).  Pre-school and lower grade-school-age children will appreciate those two attractions the most.RM-Epcot-Aquarium-Fish

Have you explored The Seas in Epcot?  What are your must-do attractions or exhibits?


Free Fizzy Fun – Club Cool in Epcot

Soft Drink Flavors in Epcot's Club CoolI’d heard about Epcot’s Club Cool – a LOT.  Blog posts, tweets, Face Book, YouTube – There’s quite the hubbub.  In Future World, near Innovations West, this Coca-Cola sponsored attraction offers guests the chance to sample Coke soft drink products from all over the world – free of charge.  I’d never felt the need to stop in there.  Free or not, I’m not a big soda (pop, coke, soda-pop, insert the preferred term of your choice) drinker and like to pretend I’m more of a trend setter than follower (let me have my dreams, okay?).  So – many trips to Walt Disney World were thoroughly enjoyed without making even a single visit to this unique little corner of Epcot.

Then came FastPass+  and, on our recent WDW vacation, we found were no longer running from attraction to attraction to check available FastPass return times.  We had our scheduled attraction times, the crowd levels were low, the weather was sunny and warm and we…hadSample Flavors in Club Cool extra time on our hands.  It felt foreign.  We did our usual Future World “must-do’s” and still had free time – not enough to walk all the way to World Showcase and back – but enough for some serious thumb-twiddling.  Why not make an inaugural visit to Club Cool and explore the flavors, escape the sun, and kill some time?  I was pretty sure Megan and Joseph would be caught by surprise with the exotic flavor of one of the available samples – an unusual soft drink known as Beverly.

Beverly was originally introduced in 1969 and marketed in Italy as an aperitif (a drink to be enjoyed before a meal to stimulate the appetite, usually alcoholic).  Aperitifs are typically dry in flavor, which would explain Beverly’s sour nature.  Many people find the taste surprisingly and unexpectedly bitter – therein lies the fun!  Reactions to the first taste of Beverly are really amusing to watch!  While there are many people who like Beverly, it’s certainly an unusual flavor.  Not into dry, bitter soft drinks?  Try some of the  many other flavors The Flavors in Epcot's Club Coolto choose from – most are sweet and delicious! A full list of available products is here.

Even though Beverly has been discontinued and no longer sold in Italy (due to product consolidations in 2009), you can still grab a sample in both Club Cool and at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.  Want to know more?  Catch the entire story of Beverly here.

Watch Megan’s and Joseph’s reactions to their first taste of Beverly here.

It’s your turn!  Have you tried Beverly?  Are you a fan?