On our Spring, 2016 Friendcation, we celebrated Nathan’s birthday. When I asked him how he wanted to celebrate, like what park or restaurant he wanted to do, he answered resoundly “Drink around World Showcase.”
So that’s what we did.
Now, we did to a little planning beforehand. We knew a few places/ drinks we definitely wanted to experience, but for the most part, we just walked around Epcot and enjoyed our day.
We began with Soarin’ Over California. I know, not what you were expecting in a blog post about Drinking Around the World. But this would be our last chance to see the old film before it gets changed to Soarin’ Over the World. We did get to ride in the new theater, with a bigger, cleaner screen and a smellitizer that was on point. Plus, we really wanted to experience Soarin’ pre-drinking. No chance-taking this time around.
After Soarin’ we ate breakfast in Les Halles over in the France pavilion. For those of you who don’t know, Les Halles is open for breakfast at 9am, before the rest of World Showcase opens. This is a great time to explore the United Kingdom and France pavilions before the crowds hit. But note, the shops and such will remain closed until 11am. Likewise, Akershus in Norway opens for breakfast, so you could take early morning pictures of the Norway pavilion as well.
Full of butter, carbs, and cheese (Ina Garten would be proud of us, I think) we made our way around to Mexico, to commence our drinking. When we visited during Food and Wine Festival last fall, we didn’t get to enjoy La Cava Del Tequila because the line was ridiculous. Since it opens at noon, we planned to be there half an hour early. There was already a pretty long line snaking its way through the pavilion.
Welp, might as well get in line. At least it seemed like the bar opened early. But then Brad had the brilliant idea to ask for the wait time for a table. Much to our surprise, we could get seated right away. Apparently all those people waiting in line were just waiting to order drinks to-go at the bar. La Cava del Tequila is quite small with only a handful of tables, so if you do want to sit down, plan to get there early. This was the first time we’ve been able to sit down in La Cava del Tequila.
For our first stop on our drinking tour, we all got our own drinks, plus nachos. Because of course nachos. After margaritas, we took our first of many selfies and rode the Gran Fiesta Tour.
While drinking our delicious margaritas, Nathan read an online review of a shot from Kringla Bakeri og Kafe that was described as “Satan’s tears.” So, naturally, we absolutely needed to try that. We ordered two Linie Auqavit Glacier Shots to share between us.
I think I was the only one who didn’t agree with the online assessment of Satan’s tears, but then I like vodka. The Glacier shot did taste like licorice, and that’s nasty, so I don’t really recommend it to anyone. Unless you’re an old man trapped in a young person’s body and actually like licorice. I do recommend the new bathrooms in Norway. Cute theming, large stalls, and plenty of mirrors.
China is one of my favorite pavilions in World Showcase. In general, I like any of the pavilions where you can turn around and not see the rest of the park. We found a shady bench along the little pond, and we had a lovely break from the sun to enjoy our drinks. Brad and I shared the Mango Gingerita which was just OK, a little too on the sweet side for me. But it was cold and hit the spot in that regard.
Before moving on, we watched the Reflections of China video and browsed around the stores. The shop in China is a great location to look for gifts!
As we left the China pavilion, the drawbridge was up, allowing the firework barges to sail into the lagoon to set up for Illuminations. Luckily, we only waited a few minutes and then we were on our way to Germany, bypassing the Refreshment Cool Post in favor of a full fledged pavilion.
By now, we were starting to feel a little hungry again, and in need of more carbs to soak up our drinks. We got a couple beers to share and two pretzels with plenty of mustard. How good is a pretzel slathered in mustard? You like that too? Let’s be friends.
Nathan, Julie and I don’t really like beer, so this one was mostly on Brad. The three of us shared a grapefruit one, and to be honest, I don’t really remember what Brad had. It was German beer, that’s all I got for ya.
Anyway, after beer and pretzels, we stopped into Karamell Kuche for a sweet treat. I went for a lavender caramel. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you probably know about my love for lavender. I highly recommend the lavender caramel-- it’s just the right amount of sweetness, balanced by the floral note. Perfect for those of us who don’t want something overly sugary.
Then we looked around the shops in the Germany pavilion. I especially love the crystal store. I could look at the sparkly things and watch the glassblowers for hours. We found this set of personalized champagne flutes.
Yeah, you read that right. Marshal and Lily champagne flutes. Someone knew exactly what they were doing. I love it.
When we visited Food and Wine, we tried limoncello and really enjoyed it. Luckily, it wasn’t a Food and Wine-specific kiosk so we had to get it again! We got both the lemon and the orange flavors. Word to the wise though, the limoncello cart is next to a smoking section, so if you're sensitive to that, steer clear.
At this point, we realized we had fallen down on the selfie job and didn’t selfie in Germany. So we went out to the isola in front of Italy where we could get Germany and Italy in the backgrounds. Incidentally, that little isola is a great place to bring a snack to munch on, away from the crowds that gather on the promenade.
We jumped right into the next showing of the American Adventure. Nathan had never seen it, so we really wanted to take the time for it this trip. Personally, I really enjoy the American Adventure show. It’s a lovely break from heat and walking and crowds. And as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve never seen the whole show in one sitting because I always fall asleep at some point during the show. This time, it was during Susan B Anthony’s speech, sorry Suzie!
Filled to the brim with patriotism, we got a couple glasses filled to the brim with beer. Again, I don’t really remember what kind of beer it was. Dropped the ball on that one.
We also tore into the bag of chips we brought with us. A family sized bag of sour cream and onion. No shame. The security guard had chuckled to himself when he opened the backpack to see only a huge bag of chips and a couple bottles of sunscreen. It is a little funny, I guess. It was really hot by this time, so we tried to sit in what shade we could find.
Next up, Japan. We decided to share a sake flight. A few years ago, Brad and I shared a sake flight but didn’t really care for it. But that was then, and I like to think we've grown up a bit since.
However, we learned that we still don’t really like sake. In fact, I don’t think any of us did. So the chips came back out. Sour cream and onion chips > sake.
From the upper balcony, we tried to get a selfie with the pagoda in the background. Another guest asked if he could take the picture for us, and bless his little heart, the picture came out awfully. It was all dark in the foreground and overexposed in the background. Even more overexposed than our selfie above!
We didn’t stick around in Japan, since we still had three more countries to hit before dinner!
I wish we had spent more time in Morocco, exploring through the twists and turns. But we were starting to feel a bit pressed for time.
We headed straight to the back Tangerine Cafe to the coffee and dessert counter. There are several boozy coffee options, but given the heat, we all opted for frozen daiquiris. What I really wanted was the iced mint tea from Spice Road Table, but that defeats the purpose of drinking around World Showcase. The daiquiris came in either tangerine or strawberry, but the Cast Member working the counter said she could combine them for us, so that’s what we chose. The drinks were a bit on the sweet side for me, but were a better choice than hot coffee. Brad and I shared a piece of pistachio baklava as well.
As a kid, I had Greek neighbors, and their Greek grandmother would come for Christmas and bake cheese baklava from scratch. And I’m telling you, no baklava will ever live up to one made by a non-English speaking grandma. It’s not Tangierine Cafe’s fault, I was spoiled at a young age when Yaya ruined all other baklava for me.
We sat in the tiny room adjacent to the dessert counter, which was a really nice escape from the heat. Just like the other seating in Morocco, the room had beautifully tiled tables and interesting wall art. Seriously, take some time to just appreciate all the tile work in this pavilion!
France has plenty of options for drinking around the world: Grey Goose slush, wine, champagne, mimosas, plus more during the various Epcot festivals. Given all the choices, we went with ice cream. Yeah, you read that right. We had ice cream.
At L’Artisans des Glaces, you can order ice cream martinis. They’re not strictly martinis, but a shot of alcohol poured over a couple scoops of ice cream. Choose from the day’s 16 flavors, and then chose to whipped cream vodka, Grand Marnier, or rum to get poured over the top.
Brad let me choose, and I went for mint chocolate chip with the vodka. The minty ice cream hit the spot on a hot afternoon, and the whipped cream vodka was the perfect complement as the ice cream melted into it. Nathan and Julie shared white chocolate coconut ice cream with rum over the top.
I would highly recommend an ice cream martini to anyone (of age, of course) spending the day in Epcot, regardless if you’re drinking around World Showcase. At the very least, get a scoop of ice cream. It’s a really nice treat on a balmy afternoon.
I know what you’re thinking, “Hey dummy, the United Kingdom pavilion is next after France, not Canada.” And you’re completely right. But we had reservations at Rose and Crown for Nathan’s birthday dinner. So we skipped the United Kingdom for the time being and moved on to Canada.
The food options in the Canada pavilion are primarily Le Cellier, a Signature dining experience. While we do enjoy Le Cellier, it’s not exactly ideal for drinking around World Showcase. Our choices then came from the popcorn cart. Once again, the menu consisted primarily of beer. We toyed with getting a beer to split, but instead opted for fancier Crown Royal Maple Whisky. Julie and I are not whisky (or whiskey) fans, so we each had one sip, made a face, and let the boys have the rest.
Don’t let the picture beguile you, this actually was quite small, and not really a good drink to share.
Last but certainly not least, the United Kingdom! This is one of my favorite pavilions! I love the architecture, and the food!
We’ve eaten at Rose and Crown many times, but only had a waterfront table for Illuminations once before. Our reservation was for 6:50pm, and Brad checked us in a little early. We took our pager and began wandering through the stores. To our surprise, the pager started buzzing only a few minutes later!
I had a Guinness, which is the only beer I like. Brad also had a Guinness, and he shared a single malt whisky flight with Nathan. The whisky flight included Lagavulin, so Brad was able to live out some Ron Swanson fantasies. Julie had a beer (she has a slightly more expanded beer palate than me) and Nathan had one of the cocktails, I’m 98% sure it was the Welsh Dragon.
We settled in for dinner and Illuminations with the satisfaction of having completed our drinking around the world quest!
Drinking Around World Showcase Tips
Drinking around the world was really fun. It’s probably an activity that we will all remember for years to come. Even if we don’t remember exactly what we drank, we surely will remember the fun and laughs we had, and our attempt to selfie after every drink. With that said, I have a few tips for making your drinking around the world endeavor successful!
1. Start early. This should go without saying, but you should begin your drinking as early as possible. World Showcase typically opens at 11am, so plan to begin around then. If you do this on a day with evening Extra Magic hours, your drinking time gets extended by a couple hours.
2. Eat breakfast. Brad and I are not usually breakfast people, but we made sure to eat something before our first adult drink. Starting with a full belly is a good way to prevent sloppiness later on.
3. Eat often. Make sure to snack frequently during the day. Obviously, each pavilion will have a selection of culturally relevant snacks to try. Ask a Cast Member for suggestions on snacks and drinks that pair well together. Or, bring your own snacks to save money. On our trip, we did a combination of both.
4. Drink water. Again, this should be obvious. Either ask for free cups of water at restaurants and kiosks, or bring a water bottle and refill it at water fountains. Regardless, try to match your alcohol consumption with water. This is especially important during the summer months.
5. Best Bathrooms. With all that alcohol and water, you’ll need a bathroom break often. The best bathrooms in World Showcase are in Norway (recently upgraded as part of the overall Norway construction) and America pavilions. The bathrooms in Germany are nice, but much smaller. And the bathrooms in Morocco and United Kingdom, and the Odyssey Center restrooms near Mexico are less nice, but fairly large. The bathrooms in China, France and the Refreshment Port near Canada are very small and tend to have a line, and are therefore best avoided.
6. Bring friends. Eleven drinks in eleven countries is a lot. A lot of alcohol and a lot of money. Sharing drinks friends is a great way to save money and calories. The only drinks we had to ourselves were the margaritas in La Cava del Tequila, and beer at dinner. It’s not a coincidence that we felt the tipsy-est in the Mexico pavilion. We shared two or three drinks between the four of us for the remainder of World Showcase.
7. Plan ahead. Do a little research before you leave home. Look at the menus online, and get an idea of the drinks available at the various country pavilions. You don’t need to pick out every drink you’ll have, but do at least have an understanding of the different kinds of restaurants and kiosks. All that information is available on the Disney World website and on the My Disney Experience App, so there’s no excuse to be ignorant!
8. Be prepared. You will get carded, maybe not at every single kiosk in every country, but it will happen. Avoid having to dig drivers licenses out every time by keeping them handy. Brad kept both of our IDs in his wallet to keep things simple. And don’t forget to think about how you are paying for your drinks. The more you drink, the more your drop your guard, so maybe scanning your Magicband isn’t the wisest way to buy your drinks. It could get very easy to be scan-happy, only to find a huge bill at check out. Having to pull a card or cash out every time can help you keep track of your spending. I know, it’s sort of the opposite of what I suggest for IDs. But if it helps you save money, then it’s worth the hassle, right?
9. Eat Dinner. Being able to sit down for an extended time was wonderful after a long, hot day in the park. I highly recommend having an ADR toward the end of your day. It’s a really great chance to sit down, rehydrate, eat a solid meal, aaaaannd, have a drink. If you plan it right, you could have a firework view like we did! Besides Rose and Crown, Spice Road Table, La Hacienda de San Angel, and Monsieur Paul have lagoon views.
10. Take pictures. Pictures are fun. Even if they turn out bad, or your eyes are closed, or you can’t get a good angle on a selfie. Take lots anyway. Of yourself, of your food/drinks, of attractions, of details, of the crowds. Everything. How else do you plan on remembering all those little details?
Drinking around World Showcase can be a really fun non-ride activity in Walt Disney World. Just remember to do so responsibly. Sharing drinks, eating, and drinking plenty of water are important. But it’s also important to know your own limits. I once saw a woman vomiting up a lime green margarita in the Odyssey Center bathrooms near Mexico. Don’t be that lady. Speaking of Mexico, don’t get so drunk that you do something stupid, like say, climb the Mexico pavilion pyramid. Something that stupid will get you a lifetime ban from Walt Disney World. You certainly don’t want to get kicked out!
Do you have any tips or drink suggestions for drinking around World Showcase? I'd love to hear them! Comment below or Tweet us @dis_stateofmind.