Welcome to my 100% independently opinionated and entirely biased ranking of the 11 Epcot international pavilions. We all have our own impassioned rantings, and here’re mine!
Starting with the worst:
Yeah, I said it. Uh-mer-i-ka. Don’t get me wrong — I love my country (if it weren’t for us, there’d be no Disney World!!! Oh, and like “freedom” and stuff. Priorities). But our representation at Epcot? It’s kind of like the Imagineers said, “you know what? People are here. They get America. Why waste time on trying to glorify what is already the awesome home of WDW, Walmart, and Honey Boo Boo*?”
*Assuming, of course, that Imagineers are psychic, which I do.
The pros to the America pavilion: Jim Beam Red Stag Lemonade, Yankees souvenirs in the gift shop, a movie featuring Oprah.
The cons: Everything else. Budweiser at a severe mark-up, Red Sox souvenirs in the gift shop, a lame-ass movie and no ride, no table-service restaurant, and an overall lack of anything interesting.
Suggestions for improvement: a corporate partnership deal with Woodford. Or at the very least, Jack Daniels. Mini-distillery on site complete with tours a must.
You’re not getting away so easily, America Jr. Your pavilion, much like your landscape, is a vast expanse of nothing.
Pros: LE CELLIER. Face it, bros to the north, Le Cellier is your only saving grace. And while it is amazing, I do hear grumblings of a recent decline in popularity and customer satisfaction due to its now charging two dining credits for a meal here. Oh, and you do have one beer stand that offers something other than LaBatt. Congrats.
Cons: A whole lot of nothing to do. One lame movie (note to readers: I’m about to call every movie in any pavilion at Epcot lame. We can agree to disagree), one itty bitty gift shop featuring stuffed moose heads, and two beer carts. No counter service eats.
Suggestions for improvement: A POUTINE STAND. ‘Nuff said. Also, a corporate sponsorship with Canadian Mist (note to readers: I’m about to suggest that every pavilion find more alcoholic sponsors. And I don’t mean that in the AA sense of the term).
Welcome to the China pavilion, home to several rooms of mass-produced souvenirs made in China. In other words, perhaps the most authentic of any international pavilion at Epcot.
Pros: Did I mention the souvenirs?!
Cons: Lame movie, no ride, no food of a quality higher than that of your local mall food court. Is it seriously that hard to make some good, authentic Chinese dishes? There are plenty of people across the globe getting this right, can you not hire one or two of them for your international training program? I’m assuming the current focus is on “cute, perky coed.” Not business savvy. That’s pants savvy. First recommendation: call that Tony Hu guy. He seems to be rocking the Chicago Chinatown scene; I’m sure you have deeper pockets than they can offer him.
Suggestions for improvement: A dim sum restaurant. Who doesn’t love dim sum?! A scorpion bowl stand. Souvenir Disney Scorpion bowls at an up-charge (yes, that’s right, Disney, I’ll help you make more money). Corporate sponsorship with…??? Do they have whiskey in China?
Morocco is the China of Africa. And I mean that in an Epcot pavilion sense, not in an actual country/geographical/political/cultural sense. The only difference possibly being that Morocco’s food isn’t quite as lame, quality-wise. Otherwise, to me, it’s all shopping, no drinking, no fun.
Pros: Some pretty neat shops available to peruse! And they don’t seem to mind if you start trying everything on and taking obnoxious drunken photos of yourself. They have several dining options, from table service (complete with belly dancers!) to quick service, to additional beverage stands.
Cons: No lame movie, no rides. Their table service option, Restaurant Marrakesh, while festive, detail-oriented, and fun, is very loud, and the food is only “pretty decent” at best.
Suggestions for Improvement: How about including a market portion of the shops where we can barter for the price of the goods? That ought to spice up the Disney quarterly estimates.
Frankly, Japan’s rating at a mere seven on this list can almost entirely be blamed on sake. I hate sake.
Pros: Not one, but two table-service restaurants to choose from! Sushi. A kick-ass shopping area featuring everything from samurai swords to erasers shaped like food items to bags of wasabi peas to live oysters ripe for the picking of their pearls.
Cons: Sake. No lame movie or ride. Sake.
Suggestions for improvement: A pavilion-wide ban on sake. Also, let’s have some fun with sushi!!! C’mon, folks. I feel like their sushi menu is as diverse and creative as the case in my local North Carolina discount grocery. When I go to Epcot, I want to experience the best and brightest from each pavilion. If I can get better sushi in rural North Cackalacky, you’re not trying hard enough. And think of the prices you could charge!
To me, Italy and Germany are the same pavilion, one just has more beer and brats, the other has more accordions and Italian food. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
Pros: I find the pavilion itself to be gorgeous. The shopping is great, beat only by its wine selection. And the dining array can’t be beat — from two different table-service restaurants, a quick service, Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar with small plates available, and additional beverage carts on top of that, you’ll never be bitching about a lack of options.
Cons: No lame movie or ride, but after the dining and wine supply, I forget I care. What’s up with the perfume shop? Is anyone actually buying anything there? I can maybe understand the significant price mark-up on bottles of alcohol on Disney property — you’re trapped, and you’re thirsty. But bottles of perfume?? You really can’t wait until you get home and can visit your local Perfumania or whatever other sketchball discount seller you frequent?
Suggestions for improvement: WHERE’S THE GRAPPA?! See also: gondola rides. See also: photo ops with dogs sharing spaghetti.
Much like Italy, it’s all about the food and drink. However, in this case, it favours the beer-lovers.
Pros: I hear Biergarten is phenomenal (no, I’ve never been; I shall try to remedy this soon), and if you’re a fan of beer, there’s little to complain about. That candy shop? Have you had those rice crispie treats??? You’ll never look at a Mickey-head-shaped rice crispie treat again. Head into the other shops, and you can satisfy your inner princess with a wide variety of tiaras while also satisfying your inner alcoholic with a wide variety of beer steins
and mugs shaped like boots because… boots.
Cons: If you’re not a beer drinker, and you have PTSD-like flash backs upon the taste of Jager, there isn’t a whole lot here for you. Yes, there is a wine bar tucked in between the caramel shop and the tiaras, but you’ll need to get your martini fix elsewhere. No lame movies or rides.
Suggestions for improvement: Surely, there must be some liquor you make that isn’t Jager or a weak apple schnapps?? And I hear rumours that not only were you originally supposed to have a river ride, but that it’s still not too late to create this! Do it.
Norway, the most recent (as of 1988) addition to the World Showcase, was always my childhood favourite. Why? BECAUSE IT HAS A RIDE. Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a ride snob. As in, have a ride, and I’ll love you. Okay, so maybe that makes me more of a ride whore than a ride snob.
Pros: A RIDE!!!! Maelstrom rocks! Akershus provides not just a table-service meal (well, buffet, but same thing), but a Princess character dining experience as well. The internet won’t shut up about this thing called “School Bread” at the Kringla Bakery. I’ve never had it, but apparently it’s the best thing since safe sex. It’s on my to-do list for my next visit in September, but I’m wary — I’m not a fan of coconut. Also, Trolls.
Cons: There’s still a lame movie. Yes, lame movies are a catch-22. I will criticize you for having a lame movie, but I will also criticize you for not having a lame movie. Solution? Have a good movie. Aquavit. Have you tasted this shit? Apparently part of its manufacturing process is to be put in barrels that are then put on ships which then ride around the ocean for a few months, allowing the barrels to roll around ceaselessly. The end result? Aquavit = sea-sickness in a shot glass.
Suggestions for improvement: Less aquavit, more vodka. School Bread sans coconut (I mean, seriously… it’s frickin’ NORWAY, how many coconut trees pop up in your mental vision of Scandanavia???).
Oh, France. You’re like the cool bitch in school that I always wanted to be friends with, but was also too intimidated by to ever point out that you, too, have a lame movie. Oh, wait…
Pros: FOOD!!! Two table-service restaurants, a newly expanded bakery, a new ice cream shop (with alcohol toppers), and their infamous drink stand that offers the divine frozen Grey Goose and Grand Marnier slushies! What more could you ask for? Oh, tequila? Yeah, we’re getting to Mexico… But while we’re still in France, the shopping is also pretty great as well! Between the wine selections, the condiments and cooking paraphernalia, to general “I’m going to pretend I vacationed in France and return home with this plastic statue of the Eiffel Tower,” the options are pretty grand.
Cons: Lame movie alert. No ride.
Suggestions for improvement: Any way to come down on the prices of those Grey Goose and Grand Marnier slushies??
2. United Kingdom
Admittedly, I’m overly biased about the UK mostly because my all-time favourite Disney movie is Alice in Wonderland, and this is the only real place to find Alice and Alice merchandise en masse. Also, the UK knows how to drink.
Pros: Alice, the cocktail menu at the Rose and Crown Pub, the shopping options, and a pretty good spot for viewing Illuminations.
Cons: No lame movie or ride. Too much Dr. Who merchandise.
Suggestions for improvement: Some kind of attraction (Alice-themed???), and for the love of Tweedles, bring back the afternoon tea service at the Rose and Crown before someone loses their head!!!!
Ah, Mexico. My (and apparently everyone else’s) favourite. (I’m going to go ahead and assume I’m just a natural born leader and trendsetter). What’s not to love?? The dining, the margaritas, the total-immersion experience of being in the temple, margaritas…
Pros: See above. Also, there’s a ride!!! Cava de Tequila offers up some of the best margaritas in all of the land (WDW and the continental US). Highly recommended are the avocado margarita or the jalapeno. And be warned: if you dare the bartender to make the jalapeno margarita as hot as he can, it will become a habanero-jalapeno margarita, and you will cry. Tears of joy, mostly, but still. The interior of the pavilion is gorgeous, and is also the setting of one of its two table-service restaurants. Margaritas are resplendent with not one, but three counter/kiosk areas available to order these. You know what else abounds in Mexico?? Ceramic Dia de los Muertos skulls!!!!
Cons: Ummmm… a lack of free tequila shots? Por favor??
Suggestions for improvement: It’s hard to improve upon perfection. However, one small suggestion: can you get rid of that stupid Phineas and Ferb Agent P thing in the temple? It really cramps my style to be relaxing with the world’s hottest margarita, holding a conversation with Pablo Jean, only to be interrupted by hoards of children aiming some plastic gun type thing at an animatronic above my head.
Suggestions for improvement overall in the World Showcase: Adult-only nations??