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? 

 

 

Disney Vacation Libation – La Cava del Tequila

A funny thing happened on the way to the Gran Fiesta Tour…

Disney Vacation Libation – La Cava del Tequila

Megan and I, on our Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip, had so many opportunities to try new things!  One of the best was finally getting to find out what all the hullabaloo is about for the little bar inside Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion.  So many of my Disney friends love La Cava del Tequila and have waxed poetic about it repeatedly. Now we know why!  We enjoyed ourselves so much, we visited twice!

The first time we stopped in La Cava, we really were on our way to the Gran Fiesta Tour.  We’d just finished a delicious lunch at La Cantina de San Angel and thought a leisurely boat ride with the Three Caballeros sounded like a great way to digest a bit and relax in the cool, dark interior of the Mexico Pavilion.  As we were making our way to the ride, I remembered how much I’d been wanting to at least check out the offerings in this much touted corner of World Showcase.  Megan was totally on board and we headed on in.

First of all, the greeters are fantastic!  Friendly and helpful, they offered to find us a table, but we asked if we could just go to the bar instead.  Of course!  The service at the bar was just as great.  We were greeted by a very friendly young woman who was happy to make recommendations and share the drink menu with us.

We noticed right away that there were tequila flights set up on the back of the bar, so we asked about how those worked exactly.  Each flight consisted of three tastes of tequila (good, better, best), presented with salt, lime, and a shot of tomato juice to be taken after the first tequila sample (to cleanse the palate).  While the set up looked like a lot of tequila, the three servings amount to the equivalent of about a shot-and-a-half.  (Description – La Cava Tequila Flight:  22 Casa Noble Blanco, Partida Reposado, Ambhar Añejo)  Megan and I thought this sounded like a fun adventure and abandoned our plans for margaritas in favor of learning more about tequila!  We were very happy with our decision.

The next day, we found ourselves in Epcot again and knew we’d be heading back to the Mexico Pavilion for the margaritas we’d passed on the day before.  Our second visit to La Cava del Tequila was every bit as great as the first.  The margarita menu is awesome.  I knew from reading rave reviews that I wanted to try the Avocado Margarita which sounds kind of odd, but is ridiculously delicious!  I normally find margaritas a tad too sweet, but the avocado version is just exactly right.  Megan opted for the Passion Fruit Margarita and was very pleased with her selection – I tried a sip and it was exotic, refreshing, and very tasty!

So…La Cava del Tequila…Megan and I both give it a two-thumbs–up for service, atmosphere, presentation and flavor.  We will most definitely stop in again at the earliest opportunity!

Have you visited?  Are you a fan of La Cava del Tequila?  What’s your favorite Disney vacation libation to order there?

Disney Dining – Off the Beaten Snack

The tried and true, wildly popular, well-known Disney snacks are great!  Essential contributors to Disney vacation happiness, those Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, churros, Mickey-shaped pretzels, and Dole Whips are must-haves for masses of fans.  But there are so many more options!  What about those?  Let’s talk about the lesser known but just-as-delicious Disney World snacks. (My apologies, turkey leg fans, I just can’t include you’re precious poultry treat here today…or ever.)

Disney Dining – Off the Beaten Snack

I consider the iconic snacks – you know, the ones mentioned above that are made into souvenir magnets and such – to be “tier one” Disney snacks.  Those would be followed by the slightly less popular “tier two” selections.  Those include Magic Kingdom popcorn (I’ve never had it, but I hear it’s the best in the World), Mickey krispie treats, and funnel cakes.  Also in this category are cupcakes like Butterfinger, Red Velvet, and the ones decorated like Disney characters, the Studios’ Carrot Cake Cookie, and those amazingly fancy candy/caramel apples.  I suppose my beloved Citrus Swirl would also fall into the tier two category (being slightly less popular that that frozen pineapple concoction). Starring Rolls / Red Velvet Cupcake

Finally, there are the snacks that fall out of the mainstream and into “tier three”.  These include some of the tastiest and best snacks in Disney World that are not available in every park.  Thus, they’re less well-known.

Think about the offerings in World Showcase like School Bread in Norway (Kringla Bakeri og Kafe), Macarons in France (Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie), caramel popcorn in Germany (Karamell-Küche), and the Churros with Caramel Sauce in Mexico (La Cantina de San Angel).  That caramel popcorn got me through Hurricane Matthew!  The School Bread, macarons, and churros are still on my to-try list.  Disney Dining - Off the Beaten SnackAlso in Epcot there’s the Croissant Donut from the Refreshment Port (YUM!) and let’s not forget that kiosk over in Italy where that Espresso Gelato “Affogato” is sold – so incredibly delicious!  I’ve mentioned the cinnamon glazed almonds and pecans before.  I’m not sure where else they can be purchased, but I always enjoy them during a visit to Animal Kingdom.  Finally, I’ve got to add the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls from the Adventureland egg roll wagon.  Yet another thing I haven’t tried, but I keep hearing how good they are.

The point of all this?  So many snacks, too little time!  I’m training like crazy for the Dark Side Challenge with just two weeks to go.  All that running makes me hungry and has me daydreaming about what snacks I’m going to have while I’m at Disney World.  Seriously, if running 19.3 miles in two days doesn’t justify a few extra snack calories, I don’t know what does.  This is a short trip and if I had more than four days to snack, I wouldn’t have to pick and choose.  Decisions, decisions…

Do you have a favorite Disney snack that I haven’t mentioned?  Please, tell me what it is and where to find it!

 

The Time We Almost Ate at Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table TableA few weeks ago, Raymond and I found ourselves in Epcot, in need of a snack, and with a bit of time on our hands.  Circumstances like these always make me want to try something new!

The Time We Almost Ate at Spice Road Table

We were enjoying a leisurely stroll through World Showcase.  We’d just left our friend Nick (yes, the Disney Musings and Disney Exchange Nick) as he headed off to meet friends in the Mexico Pavilion.  I realized I was hungry and we had quite a bit of time before our Il Mulino (in the Swan) reservation.  We needed something light – I immediately thought about the small plates at Spice Road Table and how we’d never eaten there.  We could sit and relax for a while enjoying this Morocco pavilion eatery’s prime location on the World Showcase Lagoon.  We’d heard mixed reviews (many negative), but we were willing to be open-minded.  We are pretty easy to please and were only after a snack.Spice Road Table Dining Area

We approached the podium inside the entrance and I asked how long the wait would be.  I couldn’t see much of the dining area, but there appeared to be open tables.  The host said there would be no wait and we where promptly shown to a table near the water.  We opened our menus and began discussing what we would order to share.  The weather was great and we loved our table’s location.Spice Road Table ViewNormally, at this point, we’d expect a server to stop by and ask about beverages.  If they’re busy, they’d stop by to let us know that they’ll be right back.  There were hardly any other diners around us.  We talked over our options and decided on the  Hummus and Imported Olives with Cornichons and Zaatar Pita Bread ($10) and the Brie Fondue – Baked Brie with Rosemary Croutons ($10), we’d also planned to order cocktails.  We were ready!  We were hungry!Spice Road Table Menu2 Spice Road Table Menu1Spice Road Table Menu

At one point during this time, we noticed a group of several women we believed to be servers congregated near the entrance to this patio dining area engaged in quiet discussion.  Certain they were deciding which tables needed attention and by whom each party would be assisted, we felt certain our order would be taken in short order.

Here’s where being married for almost 27 years comes into play.  We made small talk.  I took a few pictures.  Then Raymond gave me a look that spoke volumes…This look clearly asked, “How long are we going to wait for a server?”  I, of course, was already prepared with my answer, “We’ve been here 7 minutes, let’s give them 3 more.”  Seriously, on the nearly empty dining patio, guests shouldn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes to be greeted by a server.

We sat in companionable silence – Raymond with an amused look on his face as he watched me try to surreptitiously check my watch a time or two.  Finally, I burst out laughing and we got up and left.  We weren’t mad, just surprised and a little disappointed (we wanted something to EAT!).  No one spoke to us or even seemed to notice our departure.  We ended up in the Japan pavilion’s Katsura Grill where we shared sushi and drank sake and enjoyed being together at Walt Disney World. Katsura Grill - Sushi and Sake

As for Spice Road Table?  There are too many other places to eat for us to try that one again anytime soon.

Have you eaten at Spice Road Table?  How did your experience compare to ours?