The Right Way to Tour Epcot’s World Showcase

Hang around with enough fellow Disney fans and you’re bound to notice one hotly debated topic:  Which way is the right way to circle World Showcase?  One camp swears by the Mexico Pavilion route as the only acceptable way to go (Looking at YOU, Nick Maglio).  The other camp adamantly believes the only way to kick off a World Showcase visit is to begin in Canada (Hello, Dave Hodges!).  Of course, I have my own opinion (no big surprise, right?) and I’m certain my way is best.  (Want in-depth arguing on this topic?  Listen to The Disney Exchange!)

The Right Way to Tour Epcot’s World Showcase

The answer is simple.  Enter World Showcase wherever you like!  Our plan is always to go towards whatever is first on our agenda if we have one.  If we’re there simply to wander (a favorite family activity), we go to the side that appears to be less crowded at that particular moment.Gran Fiesta Tour / Mexico Pavilion / Epcot's World Showcase

If there for the rides, we enter on the Mexico side and hit the Gran Fiesta Tour on our way to Frozen Ever After in Norway.  When looking for a bite to eat, the direction we take is solely based on whatever we’re craving at the moment.  In search of a cold beverage, we’re headed to the Canada side to make our way to the UK Pavilion for an Innes & Gunn (Scotland’s finest beer, IMHO).  See how this works?

On of the very best and most charming aspects of World Showcase is that it can be completely different from one visit to the next.  Seasonal festivals, holiday decorations and special events, and slower times of the year – all game changers.

For example:  During Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, the World Showcase can be packed!  Between guests and the extra food booths and kiosks, it has a certain party atmosphere unlike other time of the year.  If we’re there for attractions or visiting particular pavilions to shop, we go at park opening.  If we’re there for the food, we prefer to be in and out by late afternoon.

When there are no special events, World Showcase begs to be explored at a leisurely pace.  This is when we love to visit every pavilion and stop here and there to speak to Cast Members or watch a performance unique to a particular country.  Drummers in Japan, acrobats in China, Mariachi band in Mexico, performers in Italy and France – we’ll take in whatever happens to be going on at the moment.  Of course, there are always snacks and drinks to try!

Don’t fall for the arguments!  There is no one correct way to tour World Showcase – no matter where you start, there are amazing sights, sounds, and flavors to explore.

What’s your World Showcase touring strategy? 



Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Turns 21

Ugh!  I think my countdown calendar is broken.  I’m so excited about our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World in October for Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, the days are passing unbelievably slowly and vacation seems much too far away.  We’ve been looking forward to this particular trip since we started planning it in 2014.  Remember when Raymond and I went to Disney World during Food & Wine to celebrate our 25th anniversary?  That was our first experience visiting during the festival and we not only had an amazing time, we knew it was something Joseph would absolutely love…once he turned 21.  Well this is the year – Joseph and the Food & Wine Festival both celebrate the same milestone in 2016.Epcot-International-Food-and-Wine-Festival

Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Turns 21

62 days long this year, Food & Wine is a great place to sample new flavors and enjoy World Showcase in a different way.  The fall weather in Orlando is incredible with less humidity and rain than during the summer months.  We’ll be visiting for 7 days and as is my habit, I’ve been obsessed with planning just the right amount of activities, time in each park, free time, special meals…you get the idea.  I may have gone overboard with the ADRs (advance dining reservations), but I have plenty of time to tweak the plan when we make our FastPass selections 60 days from our trip.  I’m anxiously awaiting more festival details so I can better plan our time in Epcot.  In 2014 Raymond and I found that scattering our Epcot visits liberally throughout our vacation allowed us to sample plenty of flavors and take in a couple of special events.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Landscape

I’ll tell you what I’ve got planned now.  I know you’re going to be shocked that we’re passing on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but four of the seven in our travel party have attended the party fairly recently and the other three are not all that excited about going.  Best to use that time and money elsewhere on this visit, I think.  Here are the plans – if you’d be so kind, please leave me a comment and let me know what you’d change (add, delete, move, etc.).RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Landscape2

Saturday – Arrival Day at Epcot – All veteran Food & Wine visitors will tell you to keep away from the festival on the weekend, but I’m bucking common sense here because I want everyone to see what a crazy Saturday night looks like in Epcot during this most unusual time of the year.  The only time that surpasses a Saturday night in Epcot during Food & Wine is World Showcase on New Year’s Eve (and we’ve seen that too!).  So basically, we’ll hit Epcot by early afternoon with whatever FastPasses I can score 60 days out, make our way slowly through the masses in World Showcase and arrive at 8:00 pm for our Via Napoli ADR.  I took suggestions from my friends on Twitter and Via Napoli was highly recommended as a crowd pleaser that won’t cost too much.  We plan to share appetizers and pizzas and call it a day.RM-Spaceship-Earth

Sunday – Magic Kingdom all day.  We’ll want to get an early start and fit in as many attractions as possible.  We do have a late lunch reservation at the Skipper Canteen, but depending on FastPass availability, it’s probably the most likely ADR to be cancelled.  Since the park closes early for Mickey’s Not So Scary, I thought this would be a great day to visit the Polynesian for drinks and dinner.  Hopefully, Trader Sam’s won’t be too crowded.  We have a dinner reservation for ‘Ohana and I’m looking forward to a relaxing evening where we can turn in early and get a jump start on Monday!Tower-of-Terror

Monday – Disney’s Hollywood Studios through lunch, Epcot in the afternoon.  Megan and Grant had a great experience at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater on their honeymoon last year, so we thought we’d give it whirl!  I can’t believe we’ve never tried it before and am excited about the experience.  After lunch, it’s on to Epcot with absolutely no other plans for the day.  The rationale here is that Epcot will be uncrowded and we can take it easy and soak up all that the Food & Wine Festival has to offer.Animal Kingdom-Entrance

Tuesday – Animal Kingdom all day.  I’m disappointed that Animal Kingdom’s posted park hours show a closing time of 5:00 pm and sincerely hope this changes!  We have an early breakfast at Tusker House (a first for us) and another reservation for very early dinner at the brand new Tiffins (4:30 pm).  If the park hours change and evening activities are a go, I plan to try to call and change our breakfast to a dining package for whatever show (Jungle Book or Rivers of Light) might be showing.  If you’ve heard anything about fall hours or evening events, please let me know.Disney's-Hollywood-Studios

Wednesday – Disney’s Hollywood Studios early and briefly then Epcot for lunch before Disney Springs for the late afternoon/evening.  This sounds like a lot of hopping, but I’m thinking that if we rope-drop the Studios and hit four attractions (Tower of Terror, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Star Tours), we’ll be finished in two hours or less.  The food booths in Epcot will make a great lunch activity and we can take our time getting to Disney Springs by around 4:00 pm.  We have a reservation at Raglan Road for 7:00 and would like to shop a little and visit Jock Lindsey’s before dinner.  After dinner, we may even have time to hit Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours.Jock-Lindsey's-Sign

Thursday – Magic Kingdom until lunch then to Epcot for the afternoon.  I’m excited about our lunch reservation at Whispering Canyon Café!  That nice little boat ride from Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge for some great food is a wonderful break from park touring.  Dinner will be at Shula’s Steak House (at the Dolphin) that evening and we can easily walk there from Epcot.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Menu-Boeuf-Bourguignon

Friday – Animal Kingdom in the morning before hopping to Epcot for more food booth action.  If I can, I’ll book Epcot fastpasses for late afternoon.  We can walk from Epcot to our farewell dinner at Il Mulino in the Swan.  I’m exhausted already and all I’ve done is type these plans!

Okay – I need you!  What would you change?  Have I allowed enough time at Epcot?  What about the other parks?  If I need to cancel some ADRs, which should be the first to go?Megan (5) and Joseph (4 months)

On a side note:  Today is actually Joseph’s 21st birthday.  I’d like to say…Happy Birthday to my favorite son – I admire your thirst for knowledge and your love of puns.  I am amazed every single day at the incredible man you’ve become and I adore the way you’re true to yourself always.  I love your gentlemanly manners and your love of everything old…especially your parents.  I love you, Sonny Boy.  Don’t ever change.Joe-Formal-Night-Dinner

Walt Disney World Mid-Vacation Check-in

Cinderella Castle at NightWith just a couple of days left to enjoy this week at Walt Disney World, I thought I’d post a quick update about how it’s been going…

What a GREAT time we’re having!  Everyday has been packed with fun – even though, by our usual vacation standards, we’ve been really taking it easy and going with the flow.  We’re trying a lot of things for the first time and revisiting some old favorites.  Mostly, we’ve been staying in the moment, stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  This is what has certainly made our first trip as a couple in 25 years extremely special!

Here are 5 things that we’ve learned so far:

1. Animal Kingdom is experiencing some major growing pains and construction walls are Dawa Bareverywhere.  Even so, we had a wonderful afternoon there on Saturday – saw some amazing things even – like BOTH of the new baby gorillas and a cast member feeding the Meerkats by hand.  We enjoyed Kilimanjaro Safari in the late afternoon nearly as much as we usually do first thing in the morning.  We also spent a delightful and relaxing few minutes enjoying a cocktail at the Dawa Bar.

2. The road from Jambo House to Kidani Village is paved with….lizards.  We counted 31 along and on the walkway on our way to Sanaa.  Every great thing we’ve heard about Sanaa was true!  We had a great dinner and the bread service?  Just amazing!!!

Path from Jambo House to Kidani Village3. Excitement is in the air at the Studios.  You can feel changes coming and while it’ll be a little sad to see original attractions make way for new ones, the park needs some TLC and we will welcome the changes with open arms.  We saw the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular just in case it’s next on the chopping block and you know what?  I loved it as much as I did the first time I ever saw it.

4. Citrico’s (table service, Grand Floridian) has got to be one of the most underrated dining experiences on Disney property.  Everything from the atmosphere to the service to the fantastic food was perfect.  We can’t wait to go back.

5. The Food and Wine Festival at Epcot is a big bunch of fun.  We made friends everywhere we stopped.  We haven’t disliked a single thing we’ve tried so far and I can’t wait to rank everything when we’re finished.  Brazil’s Crispy Pork Belly – To. Die. For.  We started off sharing everything we tried, but by the time we reached the Brazil kiosk, we knew better than to try to share that porcine delicacy!  You don’t stayed married for 25 years without perfecting certain strategies.  We strongly recommend at least one serving per person to keep the peace.

Well…I hate to cut this short, but our ADR at California Grill is in about 40 minutes and that’s barely enough time for me to get gussied up a bit.  I’ll be back home in a few days with reviews, tips and tricks, loads of pictures, and much more about our trip.  I’ll leave you with this picture of me…well, technically not me, but certainly how I felt I must have looked after our first afternoon in World Showcase sampling all the tasty offerings at the Food & Wine Festival.  If most of the pictures in this post appear sideways to you, my sincerest apologies – taken with my new iPhone 6, I’m having a super hard time getting them to appear correctly.  I’ll be working on that!

Country Bear Portrait