Epcot is practically in our back yard, so we’re there often and know the park inside-out. Recently we challenged ourselves to find the one thing in each World Showcase pavilion that stands out as a something a bit special when it comes to the five senses (taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell). Here’s what we discovered:
MEXICO: We do love our food and drink, so let’s start with taste. La Hacienda (meaning, “the home”) in Mexico should be your first stop, specifically for the Rosita Margarita. It’s a margarita, but rose flavoured. Now, before you cry out in protest over flower-flavoured libations, we urge you to partake of its subtle, sensual succulence, and we’re pretty sure you’ll be a convert. Too sceptical to try it? Head over to La Cava del Tequila for the Coffee Mescal Margarita. Decadence in a glass.
NORWAY: There could only be one sensory superstar in Norway, and that’s the “Norway smell.” If you’ve ever been to Epcot, you’ve smelled it on guests walking around World Showcase. That wonderful perfume scent that makes you stop and say, “Mmmmm….Norway.” Where does it come from? The Laila lady, who offers samples of Laila perfume in the Puffin’s Roost shop. You don’t have to buy a bottle to make this part of your sensory exploration. A little spritz on your wrist will keep the magic going all day.
CHINA: China has always been the happy rebel of World Showcase, with strange offerings like Bubble Tea and Red Bean Ice Cream. But today we’re using our sense of hearing, and this one is so fantastic you’ll want to stop other guests and tell them to try it, too. Walk into the Temple of Heaven, stand in the centre circle in the middle of the temple (the round building), and talk. The building is acoustically perfect, and your voice bounces back into your ears so you hear yourself the way everyone ‘outside your head’ hears you. Freaky!
GERMANY: Here, it’s all about seeing. More specifically, about finding. It’s easy to find the ‘gherkin tree’, since it’s right in the middle of the Die Weihnachts Ecke shop. It isn’t really traditional, but popular culture states Germans hide a gherkin (pickle) ornament on their Christmas tree, and the child who finds it gets an extra gift on Christmas morning. Pick one up and make it a tradition in your house (and you thought we were going to say “taste the sauerkraut,” didn’t you?)
ITALY: Italy’s gem starts with vision and ends with taste. Order a traditional pizza at Via Napoli, and notice the faces that serve as wood-burning pizza ovens along the back wall of the kitchen area. Who are those characters? They are Etna, Hercules, and Aeolus, characters from mythology who represent volcanos in Sicily, Naples, and the island of Stromboli. They’re photogenic, so don’t hesitate to snap a picture, but their real talent lies in producing superb—and surprisingly authentic—pizzas.
THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE: We’ll admit there are times when we’ve gone into Epcot just to listen to Voices of Liberty. They’re still one of our all-time World Showcase favourites, but there’s a new kid in town now. Actually, five new kids, and they go by the name of American Music Machine. We first heard them at Disney’s Coolest Summer Ever media event in 2015; we interviewed them for the Fall 2015 edition of Orlando Attractions Magazine; and we never miss the chance to see them when we’re in the park. Take time to add them to your next Epcot visit, and be sure to arrive for the start and stay until the end. You won’t believe what these entertainers can do with their voices.
JAPAN: We’re not sure if this little gem fits best with sight, sound, or touch, so let’s just go with all of them. Head into the Mitsukoshi Department Store (that big store on the right-hand side of the front of the pavilion, below the upper floor restaurant) and about a quarter of the way in you’ll find a counter that usually has several guests standing around it. Here you can choose an oyster from the small Pick-A-Pearl water displays, with each one guaranteed to produce a pearl. An enthusiastic ceremony goes along with opening it, and, at $20 a pop (roughly £14), it’s not a bad souvenir.
MOROCCO: There is an artistic elegance about the Morocco pavilion that invites contemplation, and that artistry can last long after you’ve moved on, thanks to The Art of Henna. Using a special pen, an artist applies the temporary henna tattoo to your skin (no needles, hence no pain!), and you’re left with a beautiful design that will last for up to a month (two weeks is more the average). It starts as a raised design, which flakes off and leaves the ‘stain’ that will become the temporary tattoo. Guys, you’re not left out. The Art of Henna has several manly-man henna tattoos, including The Eye of Hawk, geometrics and barbed-wire-like designs, and, of course, a seriously cool dragon.
FRANCE: Baguettes. Specifically, the baguettes at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, the café designed to look like a French railway station. They’re as good as any you can get along the Champs Elysees and convincing enough to make a Frenchman cry with pure taste-of-home delight. The bread’s magnificent crusty quality is a testament to the fact Disney brought in European flower and water and French baking ovens to give Les Halles’ sandwiches a true ring of authenticity. Try any of them. They’re all trés magnifique!
UNITED KINGDOM: Yes, we’re aware one of the joys of visiting the USA is the chance to try foods and snacks that are impossible or expensive to get in the U.K., but sometimes you just need the familiarity of a Hobnob or a Rich Tea, and the United Kingdom pavilion has you covered. The Tea Caddy shop on the left-hand side of the pavilion has a selection of sweets and savouries that will save the day when you’re hankering for a homely nibble, but we don’t recommend buying your tea here. Orlando grocery stores know the U.K. is one of their top markets, and nearly all of them carry PG Tips or Yorkshire teas at reasonable prices. That, and a McVities Digestive, and you’re sorted!
CANADA: In the U.S., Canada is known for three things: The Mounties, ice hockey, and maple syrup. Guess which one we’re going to recommend you invest in when you reach the Canada pavilion? Pop into the Trader’s Post shop where you’ll find shelves full of Jakeman’s pure maple syrup in their iconic Maple Leaf shaped bottles. Not a fan of sweet on your pancakes? Mix 1/4 ounce of it into your favourite drink (it even works well in Sangria) and thank goodness you don’t live in a country where the temperature can plummet to -40C in winter. Worried the bottle will break open in your luggage and make your knickers sticky? Grab a maple sugar candy instead, but we promise you’ll wish you took the chance on the syrup once the weather turns frigid back home!
For more questions and comments about Epcot’s World Showcase, join us on Attraction Tickets Direct’s discussion forums! Or, to visit Epcot yourself, check out our great range of low-priced Walt Disney World tickets.
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