Derek and I found ourselves once again at the Disney Boardwalk as Epcot was opening for the day. The International Gateway, a path leading from the beach resorts, takes visitors to a somewhat hidden Epcot entrance near the United Kingdom in the World Showcase. We were both very excited that our trip happened to overlap with the Food and Wine Festival, which we will delve into a little later on. Knowing the festival booths didn’t open until 11, we booked a few Fast Passes before tasting our way around the world. Derek and I were on the move and needed to hike it all the way across the park to make our first ride. Epcot’s World Showcase surrounds a reflective lagoon with areas called pavilions. In total eleven countries are represented, and cast members native to the country you are visiting are excited to share their culture with guests. Epcot is a unique park on the Walt Disney World property, modeled after Walt’s idea of a fully functioning utopian futuristic city. We quickly zipped through the UK and Canada to Future World West.
Once at The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion we just made our Fast Pass and scooted on board a clamobile that helped us drift slowly below the waves. All of our Finding Nemo favorites were there to guide us under the sea. After our underwater adventures, we exited the ride and were immediately surrounded by a stunning 5.7 million-gallon saltwater aquarium. Sharks, rays, and fish glided throughout the room while Derek and I were awestruck. Planning to come back to the aquarium, we strolled over to the Living with the Land attraction. This river boat tour provides a hopeful and sustainable look at the future of farming. Disney World horticulturalists showcase their innovative growing techniques creating a garden of worldly crops, while a myriad of species are seen in the house fish farm. In true Disney fashion, produce and goods seen along the tour can also be sampled during a meal at Garden Grill Restaurant or Sunshine Seasons!
After looking at all the beautiful produce in the Land Pavilion, our bellies were starting to grumble. Eleven a.m. was just a few minutes away and, with our Food and Wine Festival passport in hand, we were ready to tear through a few international food booths! Check out all of the menus, tips, and our thoughts on some of the tasty treats offered here. After a few nibbles, we headed back to the Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion to once again take in the gigantic aquarium. An interactive shark and ray exhibit, complete with touch tank, creates a waiting room for Turtle Talk with Crush. Derek and I weren’t sure what to expect from this live-chat with Crush the turtle. We quickly found out the show is improvised live through the use of a ‘hydrophone’ that allows Crush to talk directly to audience members above the water. While the show is full of quips and laughter, Crush is also very knowledgeable about marine biology. Excited audience members can ask him questions, and learn about life on the East Australian Current.
Excited to have some unstructured time, we began our journey around the world at Epcot and entered the World Showcase at the Canada pavilion. The centerpiece of the pavilion is a large Victorian style “Hotel du Canada” inspired by the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. The grounds complete the feeling of tramping through gardens in British Columbia. Seamlessly we walked on through the streets of London in the United Kingdom pavilion. Cobblestone streets were lined with quaint thatched-roof cottages and a pub serving high class English-fare, while the scent of fish and chips wafted across the air. We stopped to check out the bright red UK phone booth replicas and a lovely English garden tucked away from the crowds. Occasionally Mary Poppins, and Pooh & Friends greet guests in the garden mazes.
We strolled over the Pont des Arts inspired footbridge while entering France. Like a picture come to life in front of us, this pavilion was reminiscent of the Seine waterfront complete with carts, street performers, and artists. An Eiffel Tower replica 1/10 the size of the actual tower was crafted using actual blueprints of Gustave Eiffel, adding an authentic French feel. After briefly stopping to enjoy a street performance, Derek and I ventured to the hidden alleyway tucked behind Monsieur Paul's. Well crafted metal tables sat outside bistros. Patrons lounged, sipping a glass of champagne over light conversation. The buttery scent of fresh croissants intermingled with a seductive trace of chocolate lingered thickly in the air near Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie. When we closed our eyes it felt like being magically transported to Paris.
Upon leaving France we entered what soon became our favorite pavilion in the World Showcase, Morocco. At the entrance of the pavilion is an exquisitely built prayer tower and mosque. More native craftsmen were used when building this pavilion than in any other countries around the World Showcase. This is evident through the quality of mosaic art and archways in the pavilion. Derek and I rested our feet near a fountain inspired by the Fez fountain in Najjarine before exploring the winding paths in and out of shops in the bazaar. At one shop a cast member was generous enough to notice our honeymoon pins and teach us about traditional marriage customs. She was so excited to share a piece of her culture with us, and we had a blast too!
Japan included many breathtaking replicas from the country including a pagoda meant to replicate a 7th century Horyuji Temple, gorgeous gardens with winding footbridges, and koi filled ponds. We spent time looking at souvenirs in Epcot’s version of Mitsukoshi Department Store, named after the oldest department store in the world. We made our way to the American Adventure pavilion and briefly took in the colonial mansion that houses the Voices of Liberty performance. This pavilion is also home to the American Gardens Theater on the lagoon, an outdoor stage that hosts events such as the Eat to the Beat concert series, showcased during Food and Wine Fest.
An 83-foot bell-tower greeted us as we strolled into Italy, replicating the campanile in St. Mark’s Square. Gondolas floated past under Venetian bridges as we walked away from the lagoon and farther into the Tuscan landscape. At the center of the pavilion was a plaza with the beautiful Fontana de Nettuno, a fountain inspired by Bernini’s Neptune fountain. Wood-fired pizza wafted through the air, and we would later follow our noses back to this very spot for some much needed ‘za from Via Napoli. Germany was next along our travels around the World Showcase. We took in the Bavarian architecture, glockenspiel chimes, and even popped in to the local Biergarten. Next we entered the China pavilion through a triple arched gate built after the Temple of Heaven, located in Beijing. In this pavilion one side seems to represent a more picturesque and quaint view of China, while the other depicts all that is commercial. There are several spots where you can get away from the crowds to enjoy a peaceful moment. My sweet tooth called when I spotted fresh cotton candy in one of the Chinese markets; I devoured a simple and sweet two-layered heart.
In Norway we found a cobblestone courtyard resembling a town square. A gallery showcase called “Gods of the Vikings” depicts Norse gods and goddesses that were traditionally celebrated in Scandinavian Viking villages like Thor, Odin, Loki, and Freya. The Norway pavilion is also home to Frozen Ever After, and a great spot to see Elsa and Anna. Frozen Ever After is a slow-moving log ride with forward and backward plunges that add a little excitement to the attraction. All your Frozen fan favorites are present in little Arendelle! We rounded out our trip around the World Showcase in Mexico. A towering pyramid surrounded by lush jungle landscaping beckoned us in. Upon entering the Plaza de Los Amigos, it was noticeably twilight as we worked our way around colorful carts and shops full of authentic and handcrafted goods.
We finished our World Showcase tour with perfect timing. Reservations at the Rose & Crown Pub took us once again to the United Kingdom. Derek and I were seated on the outside patio, adjacent to the lagoon waterfront. Many people had raved about the pub, and we were really excited to check it out. The menu consists of traditional favorites like fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie. Derek ordered a Guinness and I started off with a Cider and Fireball. A delicious concoction of Tullamore Dew, Fireball, Strongbow Cider, and ginger ale. I mean, when in Rome… or should I say, when in a traditional UK pub. Taking a bit of both the traditional and modern, we dined on shepherd’s pie with creamy potatoes and fresh English peas as well as beautifully seasoned and tender chicken masala curry. Rounding out our meal we got to enjoy two delicious desserts, deciding to split a classic sticky toffee pudding and chocolate nougat bar inspired by a popular British candy bar oozing with caramel goodness.
Dinner at the pub led to drinks as we ventured around the World Showcase for a leisurely second lap. Into the later hours of the evening we caught notes of Joey Fatone & Friends drifting from the Eat to the Beat concert and grabbed a spot to watch Epcot Forever, the nighttime fireworks extravaganza. This show blew us away, fireworks we expected ... but laser effects and choreographed kites flown by a cast member off the back of speed boats cruising the lagoon! It was a fantastic way to end our day spent jet-setting around the World Showcase. Derek and I navigated the confusing and sometimes inconvenient transportation from Epcot, back to Fort Wilderness. Then called it a night and prepared for the next day full of adventure to come!
Check out more of our Magical Disney Honeymoon here:
Traveling the World Showcase at Epcot // Honeymoon Series Part 3
Honeymoon Series Part 4 (Coming Soon!)