Always a fan of Disney’s EPCOT, we were excited to snag a last-minute cancellation at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground for Christmas week.
Research showed that this campground included complimentary transportation to any Disney park. So we made the decision to spend our Christmas celebrating at the most adult adventure at Disney World’s EPCOT; what’s often called “drinking around the world”. We, of course, put our own twist on the adventure by sticking to craft beers that were native to the Country represented by each pavilion. What ensued was both entertaining and informative. Here’s how we spent our day:
Our first stop was the Canada pavilion. Most of the blogs and websites we’ve seen about this adventure suggest starting to the left of the World Showcase, with some tequila at Mexico. However for our craft beer version we decided Canada was a much better start.
The Canada pavilion offers Unibroue La Fin du Monde, Trois Pistoles, and Éphémère right outside at their beer cart. The prices are around $8 – $12 per draft pour, but the pours here are 20oz, which is actually not that bad of a value (relative of course). In addition, if you are dining at Le Cellier, they serve a few other Unibroue beers and offer flights. We chose the Trois Pistoles by Unibroue which is a delicious Belgian Strong Dark Ale.
While you’re here check out the movie in the round (no beer allowed inside though so be warned). It’s an entertaining look at the various provinces of Canada.
Many of the draft beer pours at EPCOT are 20oz, which makes the prices a bit more reasonable.
Our second stop was Mexico, where we had made a lunch reservation at the San Angel Inn Restaurant. Being it was Christmas day, reservations for dining were difficult to come by so we snatched this one up, even though the craft beer options here are less than stellar. We settled on the Dos Equis Special Lager with our carne asada.
If it weren’t for eating here, we would have held off Mexico for the end as it has the least interesting beer options. There’s better beer choices in Mexico at the La Cava de Tequila bar, including a few craft beers from the Dia de los Muertos.
The Mexico pavilion itself, however, is one of my favorites. Designed to look like you’re outside, it’s such a fun space. They also have the only real “ride” of the World Showcase. It’s a boat ride and is similar to the “Small World” concept, showcasing Mexico and Donald Duck. Be forewarned though, no beer is allowed on the ride :-)
United States Pavilion – The American Adventure
Being we had already hit Canada and Mexico, we decided to head to the United States pavilion to finish off North America.
Interestingly the United States (or American Adventure as it’s called) was one of the last pavilions to serve craft beer and still does not offer draft beer at their “beer cart”. But the cart does offer a few solid bottle choices including Cigar City Maduro Brown and Napa Smith Hopageddon Imperial IPA. We went with the Maduro Brown and it was delicious.
The American Adventure show is still as interesting and entertaining as you remember. Definitely worth some exploring, although the show is not as good as the Hall of Presidents, in my opinion.
Now it was on to Italy where we were admittedly surprised by the extensive (albeit quite pricey) beer list at Tutto Gusto (entrance under the Wine Bar awning).
Having not much more knowledge of Italian beer than the standard Birra Moretti, we went with a delicious and bright Pilsner called Tipopils from Birrificio Italiano. This may have been the best beer we tried that day, which made me feel a bit better about the $14 price tag.
The Italy pavilion is also a great place to grab a bite to eat, as the walk up stand in the back corner has some reasonably priced snacks, including a $7 personal cheese pizza.
From here we walked over to the Germany pavilion, where we picked up a unique and delicious Schöfferhofer Grapefruit at the Trinken Beer Cart.
The beer cart also offered the Altenmünster Oktoberfest but I was feeling a bit more adventurous and am glad I went with the Grapefruit. I’m typically against “produce in my beer” but this combination was refreshing and delicious. I highly recommend giving it a try.
One note about Germany:
Despite the restaurants name, the Biergarten does not have a bar or a very interesting beer list.
The Biergarten restaurant is just a basic buffet of German food. There’s no great hidden beer list here… Bummer.
The Germany pavilion also has a large model train layout built alongside the pathway worth a visit.
Next up was Japan and our next dining reservation. One tip I would offer to those who want to spend one of their days on this adventure would be to make a variety of advance dining reservations. This gives you the opportunity to sit down for a bit, enjoy a snack or a full meal, and if you’re a member of “Tables in Wonderland” as we are, you can even get 20% off of your food and your beers to boot!
Make several advanced dining reservations ahead of time. These will allow you the opportunity to sit and relax and snack or have a meal.
But back to the adventure. We dined at Tokyo Dining, which is one of our favorite restaurants at the park. Great sushi and sashimi, a delicious ginger salad dressing, fresh seafood and if you dine here in the evening, one of the best views of the fireworks.
We enjoyed a Ichiban / Ichiban Shibori from Kirin Brewery Company with our sushi snack, ask for a large which is served in a 24oz glass for a great deal of $7.50 and enjoy what is probably the friendliest service at Disney.
After Japan it was off to Norway, where Frozen fever has aparently taken over.
Gone is the Maelstrom, supposedly in preparation for a new Frozen themed ride (do you wanna build a snowman – the ride?).
We grabbed a Icelandic White Ale by Einstök Olger and checked out the small museum where they’ve admittedly done a really decent job of incorporating some “Frozen” facts into a genuine look at the terrain, clothing, architecture and history of Norway.
Crazy fact, you cannot actually get a Norway beer at the Norway pavilion restaurant. So have your beer at their beer cart instead.
You cannot actually get a Norway beer at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Get your beer at the beer cart here instead.
Next it was on to China where we had a refreshing Tsingtao from Tsingtao Brewery. There weren’t many craft beer options here, but Tsingtao is always a nice choice with Chinese food.
The China pavilion also has a 360 degree movie like Canada. The China version isn’t designed to be quite as entertaining, but it does give an interesting look at the country and it’s history. There’s also a museum here and both a counter service and table service restaurant.
China the only country pavilion we haven’t dined in for some reason… I suppose we’ll have to change that one day.
Morocco is one of the most interesting pavilions at EPCOT. The architecture and detail are beautiful.
Fun fact: when EPCOT was building the World Showcase, Morocco was so honored to be included that, at their own expense, they sent craftsmen to construct the elaborate spaces, carve the woodwork and lay the mosaic tiles. This attention to detail shows and the museum section of the Morocco pavilion is quite amazing.
We picked up an Efes Dark by Anadolu Efes and spent a half hour exploring the museum (which you can do with beer in had), learning about everything from style to henna. We also dined at Marrakesh on a different occasion and wanted to give a shout out to that restaurant. It’s something different (also it’s one of the easier restaurants to get a reservation at) and is very well done.
From Morocco we walked over to France, where we had a dinner reservation at the very nice Chefs de France restaurant. We enjoyed a 1664 by Brasseries Kronenbourg while we waited for a table by the window so that we could watch the fireworks show (not as great of a view as Tokyo Dining, but still worth the wait).
Obviously wine is the featured beverage in France, with some great selections available, all by the glass or bottle, but to be true to our agenda we stayed the course with our craft beer.
If you’re looking for something more casual for dining, there is no better choice in the World Showcase than the Boulangerie Paitisserie les Halles Cafe behind Chefs de France in the France pavilion. Here you can get delicious sandwiches, quiches, pastries and more, all for a very reasonable price. We’ve eaten here on a number of occasions, the outside bistro tables are in a small courtyard and off the main path, which makes this a very comfortable and reasonably priced lunch (or dessert!) option.
The Boulangerie Paitisserie les Halles in the France pavilion is probably the best kept dining secret in the World Showcase.
United Kingdom Pavilion
The Rose and Crown pub here offers perfectly poured Guinness, Harp or Bass, each in a 20oz pour. They also have a variety of small plates, or there is a fish and chips cart outside as well.
Across from the Rose and Crown there’s often some street performers playing music and there are some nice places to sit and relax and people watch.
Overall, this was probably one of the best Christmas days we’ve had since we were kids ourselves. We treated this as a marathon, not a sprint, and split most of the beers as we enjoyed some serious people watching. As for the overall stats, we spent all day (about 11 hours) enjoying ourselves at the park. We walked almost 14 miles and in total spent about $250, including the beers, the food and Christmas Day sized tips. We tried 7 beers that we had never tried before and learned a lot about the holiday culture of the countries we visited along the way. If you’ve got an extra day to spend meandering around EPCOT, we would certainly suggest you sample some of the craft beer offerings the pavilions have. Now, if we could only convince Disney to offer a “beer passport” like the wine one they offer…